Sunday, July 4, 2021

When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain

Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars 
Pages: 371 pages
Published: April 2021

I selected When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain as my free add-on book for my birthday month, courtesy of my Book of the Month (BOTM) Club BFF status. When this book was first released on BOTM, it sounded intriguing to me but other choices piqued my interest more and I left this one for later. What took me so long? This fictional story interwoven with true missing persons cases in the early 1990s, most notably the Polly Klaas case, made for an equally interesting and heartbreaking read. The overall plot centers around Anna Hart who is a missing persons detective in San Francisco. Personal tragedy sends her back to the small town she grew up in with her foster parents. While there for healing, she is drawn to a case involving a missing girl. One thing leads to another and she finds herself in the middle of what appears to be a serial murder case. 

McLain took great care with the true crime stories that served as a backdrop for this book. You can clearly see that she put forth great detail and research by including those cases. As a result, this book left me feeling uncomfortable - not because it was a bad book but because in reality bad things happened, and I could not use this fictional book to totally escape the real word. In the real world there are bad people who do horrible things. Having said that, I do appreciate very much what McLain has done in weaving a fictional story with real cases. Her writing is moving in that it evokes an emotional response and propels the reader into and through the story. It left me thinking about it for days after. 

My only criticism of this book is the ending. I thought the conclusion to the fictional aspect was a little too tidy. Additionally, it seemed as though the author rushed the ending a bit with regards to Anna's personal struggles. She could have easily gone into more depth with that storyline, especially since it was germane to the plot. 

Recommendation: This is a heavy read, but it is a good book and I would highly recommend it when you're looking for something sobering. 

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.


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