Review: Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas

Title: Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Historical (90s), Domestic Mystery, Suspense
Length: 432 pages
Book Rating: 000b=

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A twisty, compulsive thriller full of jolting shocks and startling secrets involving two sisters, a disappearance, a double murder, and a reporter determined to find the truth from the bestselling author of Local Girl Missing, Last Seen Alive, and Do Not Disturb.

Everything changed the night she disappeared . . .

On a summer’s night in 1994, sixteen-year-old Flora Powell vanished from her sleepy seaside town without a trace. Their hearts shattered, Flora’s mother, her sister Heather, and Heather’s best friend Jess had to somehow carry on not knowing what happened.

Twenty-five years later, tragedy strikes again when Heather walks into a stranger’s house and allegedly kills two people in cold blood.

Why would this loving wife and doting new mother commit such a heinous crime? Jess, now a reporter, returns to the hometown she left behind to cover the case and dig for answers. But this isn’t like any other story. Jess was like a sister to the Powell girls, until the summer that tore them all apart.

What happened to the girl she used to know?

The question haunts Jess and propels her to find the key that may unlock the mysteries involving both sisters. But the search may reveal more . . . a darker side to this idyllic place she thought she knew.


Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas is a mesmerizing domestic mystery with a clever storyline.

In the 1990s, Jess Fox becomes close friends with Heather Powell. The two are practically inseparable as they spend their days together. Heather is also quite close with her older sister Flora.  All of them have quite a bit of freedom and this enables Flora to enjoy an illicit romance with fair worker Dylan Bird. Relying on Heather and Jess to cover for her, Flora steals as much time as possible with Dylan. But the relationship comes between the two sisters and when Flora vanishes one summer day, Jess and Heather’s friendship falls apart. With no leads, Flora’s case quickly goes cold.

In 2012, Jess and her partner Rory have left London and now live close to the seaside town where the Powell family still reside. A shocking double murder puts Jess back in touch Heather’s mum, Margot. Jess works for a local newspaper and she hopes her former ties to the family will give her insider access during the investigation.  She and Margot become rather close as she interviews her for an upcoming article. Heather is currently in a coma after her suicide attempt. Heather is also the prime suspect in the double murder of newcomers, seventy-six-year-old Deirdre Wilson and her fifty-eight-year-old son Clive. No one knows why Heather would kill the two in cold blood but Jess hopes to uncover the truth as she spends time with Margot.

Jess cannot shake the feeling that someone has been following her. She is also receiving threatening notes which leave her wondering if these personal threats are related to the reason she left London or the Wilson murders. She is keeping secrets from Rory and their relationship soon begins to buckle under the strain. She is fortunate to be friends with her co-worker Jack Renton but much to her dismay, he is becoming unreliable.  Hoping to unearth the truth about Heather and the murders, Jess is stunned when her search takes her to a very unexpected discovery.

Then She Vanishes is an atmospheric domestic mystery that is fast-paced and engrossing. The storyline seamlessly moves back and forth in time as Jess tries to understand why her old friend would murder two people. The characters are vividly developed and multi-faceted. The plot is unique and the settings spring vibrantly to life. With a late in the story plot twist,  Claire Douglas brings this brilliant mystery to a breathtaking conclusion.

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