She thought he’d come to save her. She was wrong. Deborah Jenkins pulls her coat around her as she sets out on her short walk home in the pouring rain. But she never makes it home that night. And she is never seen again … Four years later, an abandoned baby girl is found wrapped in dirty rags on a doorstep. An anonymous phone call urges the police to run a DNA test on the baby. But nobody is prepared for the results. The newborn belongs to Deborah. She’s still alive.
The Next Girl is a decent police procedural with some interesting characters and a good plot, but I’m afraid it did not blow me away. This may not solely be a reflection of the book – it may be because I’ve read a number of similar books recently: many police procedurals, with lots of lead detectives with secrets and several missing persons.
I think the main issue for me was the pacing: the first 25% of the book covers the police finding out what we the readers already know from the half a dozen lines of book blurb, so for a quarter of the book it felt like there was no mystery or tension; we were just waiting for the police to catch up. For me, it took until about the halfway point before the pace really picked up; things got moving then and I enjoyed the second half much more.
I liked the characters of Gina and Jacob and their colleagues – particularly Wyre and O’Connor – and it was perhaps a refreshing change to see such a pressured team with no (negative) inter-personal tensions. The subplot of seeing things developing from Debbie’s husband and mother, Luke and Cathy’s, points of view gave it an original slant and those parts of the book really pulled on the heartstrings. Although the tension ratchets up in the final third, and there is a satisfying and rational reveal, I do not feel that it was fair to have promised a “heart-stopping twist”.
I would be interested to see more from Gina and to see how her relationship with her daughter pans out, as well as her new-ish romantic relationship. (And to see what O’Connor’s wife might bake next!)
As always, I am grateful to NetGalley and Bookouture for the ARC of The Next Girl.