In 1976, Annalise Wood disappeared on her journey home from school and instantly became a local celebrity. For decades the town of Lilling tried to solve the mystery of Annalise’s disappearance until, almost twenty years later, her body was discovered. Annalise’s body was badly decomposed and there was a lack of DNA available; the only trace on the body was found in her skirt and did not match anyone on record. The chances of finding her killer were extremely low and the murder soon became a ‘cold case’ – but still the most famous Lilling had ever seen.
2017 and Morris Keene has been demoted from Detective Inspector and has now joined the police’s Review Team. Morris’ first case is none other than the murder of Annalise Wood as forensics have finally found a match for the DNA found on her skirt. With the help of his ex-partner, Chloe Fohrmann, Morris goes on a hunt for a killer from forty years ago. Throughout this novel we follow the journey of multiple complex characters and discover some harrowing truths. Who is responsible for Annalise’s disappearance? Was it her body they found twenty years ago? If not, then who did they find all those years ago? And what happened to the real Annalise?
Winslow’s novel is a compulsive page-turner. From the first page, when I first met Annalise Williams, who believes that sharing a name with the missing girl forges a bond, I was hooked. Annalise is such a dark, disturbing character that I was desperate to learn more about her and how she was involved in the case of 1976. Instantly we see that she is obsessed with the case and is jealous of the original Annalise for all her love and adoration. Anna Williams is definitely the most complex and interesting character in this novel, but, Winslow’s narrative is packed with them. From lost, grieving Dr Laurie Ambrose to naïve, vulnerable Hannah-Claire. All of Winslow’s characters will have you hanging on their every word and desperately waiting for the next plot-twist.
I loved Winslow’s narrative structure throughout this novel. There is no protagonist but instead a collection of wonderfully crafted characters who individually tell their version of events. I found this style very refreshing as it was continuously swapping between characters with new opinions and points of view; this kept me engaged and excited permanently. Just as one chapter ends you’re back to another great character and seeing what is happening in their lives.
My only criticism for Winslow’s Look For Her is that sometimes the connections that tied the characters together seemed a little forced and slightly unrealistic. I would have also liked a longer, more developed ending as I was left feeling a little robbed of explanations and equilibrium for the characters I had grown to know and love.
Overall, I would highly recommend this book to any thriller/mystery lover who takes joy in indulging in brilliant characterisation and suspense. Look For Her is the first Emily Winslow novel I have read but I guarantee I will be reading her other works and looking out for her name in the future. Watch out for this novel, it is going to be big!