Kathy Dawson Books (Penguin)
Source: ARC from publisher for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Nearly Boswell knows how to keep secrets. Living in a DC trailer park, she knows better than to share anything that would make her a target with her classmates. Like her mother's job as an exotic dancer, her obsession with the personal ads, and especially the emotions she can taste when she brushes against someone's skin. But when a serial killer goes on a killing spree and starts attacking students, leaving cryptic ads in the newspaper that only Nearly can decipher, she confides in the one person she shouldn't trust: the new guy at school—a reformed bad boy working undercover for the police, doing surveillance. . . on her.
Nearly might be the one person who can put all the clues together, and if she doesn't figure it all out soon—she'll be next.
Nearly Gone is a story that acts as a beautiful reminder of everything we love about reading, sucking us in with a well-executed murder mystery and just a touch of romance; the combination of the two allowing for a couple of late nights as we race against the clock to find out the who and why of it all. The mystery itself is just complicated enough to ensure our minds are working overtime to solve the myriad of literal puzzles the murderer leaves behind for Nearly, but not so convoluted as to create distance between us and the story. We do figure one or two things out with regard to the numbers well before Nearly does, but many times those who are closest to something are the ones who can’t see as clearly, so her inability to make certain connections isn't overly bothersome. The killer and his or her reasons remain intriguingly hidden from us throughout though, a good size suspect pool keeping us on our toes and guessing until the final showdown.
Nearly is a strong heroine–not a horror movie cliche who does the exact opposite of what is smart and logical and therefore unsurprisingly finds herself in a place she shouldn’t be–and we can’t help but be pleased with the way she handles things. When she first discovers the link between the personal ads and the attacks on her fellow students, instead of deciding to solve the case on her own, she runs immediately to the police and tells them everything she knows. It’s only when she’s basically laughed out of the police station and added to the top of the suspect list that she starts trying to decipher the riddles herself, something we really can’t blame her for doing. There are of course a multitude of moments when things begin to escalate that she undoubtedly should have gone to the police yet again, but it’s easy to suspend disbelief a touch because we find ourselves as desperate for answers as Nearly is.
In addition to the mysterious deaths of her classmates, we’re also treated to a slow burning romance between Nearly and new student/undercover agent Reece. Nearly is aware of exactly who and what Reece is from the beginning, removing some of the tension and worry that comes from knowing a hurtful secret our protagonist doesn’t, and it's because she knows of Reece’s involvement with the police that she’s extra wary of him. Though she understandably keeps this knowledge to herself for a while, she’s not the type of character who withholds information from him throughout, eventually opening up to him fully and allowing him to help her rather than causing a series of miscommunications by deliberate omission. She handles the relationship between them perfectly, trusting in moderation as their initial friendship begins to progress into something more, and blissfully holding off on declarations of love until she’s had the time to get to know all facets of him rather than just the ones he wants her to see.
The romance, while present, takes a definitive backseat to the mystery, allowing the connection between the numbers and Nearly’s life the majority of the time in the spotlight. As a result, we flip the pages with increasing speed, frantic to reach the end where all our answers await. When we do reach the final chapters, we find the various threads woven together beautifully, all our lingering questions addressed and our hearts warm with satisfaction on both the romantic and murder mystery fronts. A hugely enjoyable read, Nearly Gone shouldn’t be missed.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.