Book Review: When the Stars Go Dark, by Paula McLain

Image belongs to Ballantine Books.

TitleWhen the Stars Go Dark
AuthorPaula McLain
Genre:  Thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

Anna Hart is a seasoned missing persons detective in San Francisco with far too much knowledge of the darkest side of human nature. When tragedy strikes her personal life, Anna, desperate and numb, flees to the Northern California village of Mendocino to grieve. She lived there as a child with her beloved foster parents, and now she believes it might be the only place left for her. Yet the day she arrives, she learns that a local teenage girl has gone missing.

The crime feels frighteningly reminiscent of the most crucial time in Anna’s childhood, when the unsolved murder of a young girl touched Mendocino and changed the community forever. As past and present collide, Anna realizes that she has been led to this moment. The most difficult lessons of her life have given her insight into how victims come into contact with violent predators. As Anna becomes obsessed with saving the missing girl, she must accept that true courage means getting out of her own way and learning to let others in.

This was a good mystery/thriller. I did not figure out who the bad guy was—until just a few minutes before Anna did. The foreshadowing was there, but it was so well done I didn’t pick up on it. I enjoyed the scenes from Anna’s past, in the woods with Hap the most. She’s a complex character with a lot of darkness in her life, but she struggles to help other women overcome their own darkness. This is well-worth reading.

Paul McLain is a bestselling author. When the Stars Go Dark is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Ballantine Books in exchange for an honest review.)

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