Category Archives: Catherine Dang

Review: Nice Girls by Catherine Dang

Title: Nice Girls by Catherine Dang
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


A pulse-pounding and razor-sharp debut with the emotional punch of Luckiest Girl Alive and All the Missing Girls that explores the hungry, angry, dark side of girlhood and dares to ask: Which is more dangerous for a woman—showing the world what it wants to see, or who she really is?

What did you do?

Mary used to be such a nice girl. She was the resident whiz kid of Liberty Lake, Minnesota—the quiet, chubby teen with the scholarship to an Ivy League school. But three years later, “Ivy League Mary” is back—a thinner, cynical, restless failure who was kicked out of Cor­nell at the beginning of her senior year and won’t tell anyone why. Taking a job at the local grocery store, Mary tries to make sense of her life’s sharp downward spiral.

Then beautiful, magnetic Olivia Willand goes missing. A rising social media star, Olivia is admired by everyone in Liberty Lake—except Mary. Once Olivia’s best friend, Mary knows better than anyone that behind the Instagram persona hides a willful, manipulative girl with sharp edges. As the town obsesses over perfect, lovely Olivia, Mary wonders if her disappearance might be tied to another missing person: nineteen-year-old DeMaria Jackson, whose case has been widely dismissed as a runaway.

Who is the real Olivia Willand, and where did she go? What happened to DeMaria? As Mary pries at the cracks in the careful facades surrounding the two missing girls, old wounds will bleed fresh and force her to confront a horrible truth.

Maybe there are no nice girls, after all.


Nice Girls by Catherine Dang is an engrossing mystery.

After getting into an Ivy League college, Mary vows never to return to her small home town of Liberty Lakes, Minnesota. But in her senior year, an altercation between her and a freshman culminates in her expulsion from school. Mary now lives with her father who insists she immediately return to work. She works at a local grocery with former high school football star Dwayne Turner. Mary’s plan to remain under the radar comes to abrupt end when her former childhood friend Olivia Willand goes missing. During the town search for Olivia, Mary discovers another young woman went missing a few months earlier. But DeMaria Jackson’s disappearance receives little notice or investigation when the police treat her case a runaway. Convinced the two cases are linked, Mary decides to investigate on her own.

Mary goes unrecognized by many of her former classmates due to her change in appearance. She is depressed and barely goes through the motions after moving back in with her father. Their relationship remains even more fractured than when she left for college. Mary vacillates between shame and anger over the incident that led to her college downfall. Unfortunately, she cannot muster the energy to make plans for her future.

At first, Mary is certain that Olivia is not really missing. She instead believes the influencer planned her disappearance as a publicity stunt. But she starts to change her mind after learning about DeMaria’s still unsolved disappearance. Mary is even more convinced after meeting DeMaria’s mother that her daughter did not runaway. With a thin lead to track down, she hopes to find information  that will lead her to the truth about what happened to the missing woman.

Mary also cannot stay away from uncovering the truth about what happened to Olivia. She remains angry over the end of their friendship. She is mostly successful at pushing aside her hard feelings as she begins her own investigation. A chance comment provides her with an intriguing clue to follow but will Mary learn the truth about what happened to Olivia and Demaria?

Nice Girls is a compelling mystery with a topical storyline. Mary is a troubled character who does not always make the best choices. She often leaps to conclusions that unfortunately result in rash decisions. Liberty Lakes is somewhat claustrophobic but this adds to the growing suspense. With a startling discovery, Catherine Dang brings this fast-paced debut to an edge of the seat, unpredictable conclusion.

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Filed under Catherine Dang, Contemporary, Mystery, Nice Girls, Rated B, Review, Suspense, William Morrow