This is another one of those books you just can’t put down: a plot that grabs you by the front of your shirt and doesn’t let go, with excellent character development, and what a way with words. Two Girls Down, by Louisa Luna, takes the reader through the emotional roller coster of searching for missing children. That emotional trauma is, of course, felt most by the children’s families, but we are shown how it also affects the authorities involved in the search.
Two Girls Down is the heart-wrenching story of the kidnapping of two little girls, and the search and rescue effort. It would be easy to blame the mother, Jamie Brant, as she curses at them and is, herself, an abuser of both drugs and alcohol, but she loves her children. Jamie’s aunt hires a famous bounty hunter, Alice Vega, to find the girls.
Lead character, Vega, refers to herself as someone who finds missing persons. Lead supporting character, Max Caplan (Cap) is a disgraced police officer turned private investigator who Vega hires to assist her. Cap’s disgrace is due to his taking the fall for a younger officer who had a family to support.
Through the voices of her characters, Luna reminds us of the dangers of starring at our phones instead of watching our children in any public place; of our prejudices: one character disliked Vega because of her appearance – she was a quarter Mexican. Then there is the effect drug use and alcoholism have on families: one older couple was at risk of losing their home because of their daughter’s abuse of drugs and alcohol. The opioid crisis was mentioned several times.
Through the voice of the narrator, she reminds us of many of today’s issues: urban sprawl is mentioned more than once, and runoff from a coal mine is said to be causing a stream to be named Black Creek. One character with leathery skin was said to resemble another attractive character, except that she had spent too much time in the sun. Also, mentioned was the dangers of tobacco use (a person who had smoked for years and looked it, and another who didn’t know if her cancer was caused by a life with parents and a husband who smoked or by asbestos in her workplace).
All of these things are subtly woven into a compelling yet agonizing, and all too realistic story. This is one that will stay with you after you have closed the book, or turned off your e-reader. Two Girls Down will be available for purchase on January 9, 2018.