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Alice Vega #1

Two Girls Down

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When two young sisters disappear from a strip mall parking lot in a small Pennsylvania town, their devastated mother hires an enigmatic bounty hunter, Alice Vega, to help find the girls. Immediately shut out by a local police department already stretched thin by budget cuts and the growing OxyContin and meth epidemic, Vega enlists the help of a disgraced former cop, Max Caplan. Cap is a man trying to put the scandal of his past behind him and move on, but Vega needs his help to find the girls, and she will not be denied.

With little to go on, Vega and Cap will go to extraordinary lengths to untangle a dangerous web of lies, false leads, and complex relationships to find the girls before time runs out, and they are gone forever.

311 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 9, 2018

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About the author

Louisa Luna

10 books925 followers
Louisa Luna is the author of the novels Brave New Girl, Crooked, and Serious As A Heart Attack. She was born and raised in the city of San Francisco and lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,339 reviews
Profile Image for Debra .
2,298 reviews35k followers
November 17, 2017
I could not put this book down! I read this book over the course of one day. Brilliant. Two Girls Down is a page turner with well developed characters, an intriguing and well written plot, suspense and a feeling of dread.

Jamie is a single Mother to two young daughters, 10 year old Kylie and 8 year old Bailey. She is running errands and goes into a Kmart ALONE (R U f'ing kidding me? Who leaves kids alone in a car?)to buy a birthday present. While she is in the Kmart picking out a gift, her daughters get out of the car and are not seen again. Later they are seen on camera walking around, going into an ice cream shop, and then walk out of the camera's frame. Gone. Missing. Abducted. It doesn't help that eye witness accounts vary and not all eye witnesses are viewed as reliable.

Jamie's family calls in a tough as nails bounty hunter named Alice Vega to help find the girls. Vega has a reputation for finding people that the police cannot. While in town Vega hires Max Caplan, a private detective who was once a police officer who resigned after a scandal. The local police are also on the case but they are stretched thin and the family wants answers as the clock is ticking. The police are not happy that Vega and Cap are also investigating which adds some angst to this story. Every second counts in child abduction and even the feds are eventually called in to find the missing girls

Initially there is not much to go on but Vega has the assistance of an unknown Computer hacker/whiz called "the Bastard". As their computer whiz begins digging up info, Vega and Cap have information to go and start the process of eliminating suspects. Along the way they get leads, some of which pan out, some of which don't really seem to go anywhere. I appreciated seeing them investigate false leads as not all police investigations are cut and dry. This gave the book a very realistic feel. As the clock ticks the duo follow every lead hoping to find the girls.

As I previously stated, I read this book in one day. It was a real page turner for me. I really enjoyed both Vega and Cap. I thought they had good chemistry together. Both were tough in their own ways, they both were driven to find the girls and each had a no-back-down attitude. I also liked that even though there were hints of attraction, and not so subtle hints between the two, this did not become a romance. Throughout the book, there was a feeling of dread as the two young girls are missing and there are seemingly very little clues. Will they be found alive? Will they be harmed? Could they have been taken by a child molester? Were they sold? Will there be a ransom? Are they dead? There are so many questions about the girls besides just their whereabouts and who may have taken them.

Another mystery in this book was bounty hunter Alice Vega. We know more about Cap and his life. But Vega is also a little bit of a mystery. She reveals very little about herself in this book. She opens up some to Cap but overall, she herself is a mystery to the reader. Which made her character even more interesting to me.

I loved that the plot was fast paced which helped keep the pages turning but added more suspense and anxiety as the girls lives are at stake. I could almost feel the anxiety that the characters in this book must be feeling while trying to track down the girls and their abductor/abductors. This book was brilliantly paced, well written and had a great story. This was my first book by Louisa Luna but it will not be my last.

Thank you to Doubleday Books and NetGalley who provided me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

See more of my reviews at www.openbookpost.com
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
November 3, 2017
I'm between 4 and 4.5 stars here.

I love when a book you stumble upon by an author you're not familiar with turns out to be a terrific read. Such was the case with Louisa Luna's Two Girls Down . It's a well-written, suspenseful whodunnit with some pretty fascinating characters.

A single mother, sometimes Jamie Brandt just needs a break from her two daughters, 10-year-old Kylie and 8-year-old Bailey. They're always wanting something, needing something, and she's just tired. What she wouldn't give for a few minutes of peace.

On the way to a birthday party, Jamie and the girls stop at a strip mall so Jamie can pick up a gift. She's just going to be five minutes, and she knows letting the girls come into the store will only lead to fighting, whining, and chaos, so she leaves them in the car with the ignition running. When she comes out of the store about 10 minutes later, her car is there but the girls are missing.

With the town's police force stretched beyond its means due to budget cuts and a growing drug epidemic, Jamie's family hires Alice Vega, an unorthodox bounty hunter with a good record of finding missing children. The local police don't take too kindly to Alice's involvement in the girls' case despite the fact they can't devote any resources to it, so she decides to turn to Max "Cap" Caplan, a former police detective who resigned from the force in disgrace.

Cap is trying to put his past life behind him, but it isn't rewarding taking pictures of cheating spouses and tracking down bail skips, so as much as he wants to avoid interacting with his former colleagues, there's something about Alice Vega that draws him in.

Alice and Cap make a commanding pair, and they start making progress on trying to find out what happened to the girls, which of course leads to the inevitable run-ins with the police. Little by little they have to determine which leads are false and which have potential, which people pose a threat and which people were merely in the wrong place at the wrong time, and uncover just how deep this crime runs within the town. At the same time, Alice and Cap have to struggle with their own demons, knowing every second they delay or ponder could result in the girls' deaths, if they aren't dead already.

I thought Luna did a great job with this book. Like with so many mysteries, I suspected nearly every character that popped up in the narrative, and I kept hoping she wouldn't disappoint me by taking the easy way out. I thought the resolution of the story was a little more complicated that it needed to be, but it definitely affected me, because as depressing as it was, I know that Luna didn't just invent this scenario out of whole cloth.

There was a good amount of tension and some great action, I thought Cap was a terrific character, and Alice is a bit of a badass! Luna knew how to ratchet up the suspense and toss in some characters you can't figure out if you should root for them or not. I don't know whether she intends this to become a series, but I hope to see more of Alice and Cap. There's so much I'd love to know about their backstories, too.

I really enjoyed this and read most of the book in one day. I'll definitely be looking for the next book in Luna's career! This one is worth a read.

NetGalley and Doubleday provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo....
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,543 reviews9,853 followers
June 4, 2023
When single-mother, Jamie, runs into Kmart to buy a gift, she somehow doesn't think twice about leaving her young daughters, Kylie and Bailey, alone in the car.

She's frazzled already and knows if she brings them in they will just be begging for treats, something she doesn't have the patience for today.

Little does she know, in just minutes, her whole world will be turned upside down, as upon returning to the car, she finds it empty.

The girls are gone.

Ill-conceived parenting choices aside, this is absolutely devastating for Jamie.

When the police fail to come up with any leads, she begins to unravel; although truth be told, she was halfway there already.

Wanting to help, Jamie's family hires reputable people finder, Alice Vega, to investigate.

Vega, a bounty hunter by trade, has had great success locating missing people and Jamie's family knows she is their best hope of recovering the missing girls.

Vega is a certified badass with a 6th-sense for finding lost things. I loved her from the start. Her character definitely has some skeletons in the closet and that's my kind of gal!

She seems to have no fear and will stop at nothing to track down the ones she seeks.

New to the rural Pennsylvania area, Vega enlists the help of disgraced former cop, Max Caplan.

Cap resigned from the force in order to protect the reputation of another officer, so yeah, he's a good guy.

Father to a smart, independent 16-year old girl, Cap is getting by doing private investigative work. Begrudgingly at first, he decides to help Vega with the case.

Their investigation was so interesting. The characters detailed so nicely to give this a very seedy feel.

It got real dark, which I was not anticipating. This went places.

I loved the chemistry between Vega and Cap. They made a great team and I would love to see more books with them working together.

I would recommend this to people who like police procedural-type crime thrillers. Especially if you aren't put off by dark subject matter.

A++ to Book of the Month Club for bringing this book to my attention!
Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,072 reviews3,616 followers
April 13, 2018
Alice Vega is a tough bounty hunter (in a unique kind of way). Her specialty is finding missing people. She’s good at what she does - and she knows it. Rawhide tough, she doesn’t let anyone get too close to her, but knows this time she’s going to need help.

Max Caplan, (Cap) is a former policeman who was forced into early retirement. He’s a single father raising his sixteen (going on 25!) year old daughter, while now working as a private detective.

Vega is called to a small town in PA to assist in finding two missing young girls. It’s time to enlist the help of Cap. With two sets of eyes, and no help from the local police department she hopes to hunt down the kidnappers before it’s too late.

I just loved the dynamic between Cap and Vega. You can feel the tension, touch the sparks…grasp the loneliness of their hearts. Truthfully, I was more swept up in their dynamic than the actual kidnapping!

This is a slow read, but once in I was all in, and found it hard to put down. The chapters are long, but you’ll easily lose yourself in the storyline. I didn’t want it to end, and was left hoping to hear more from Cap and Vega in the future! Highly recommend!

A Traveling Sister read with Brenda, Susanne and Jan! 🤗💜

Thank you to NetGalley, Doubleday Books and Louisa Luna for an ARC to review in exchange for an honest review.

For this review and our full Traveling Sister review please visit Brenda and Norma's fabulous blog:
Profile Image for Julie .
4,031 reviews58.9k followers
February 8, 2020
Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna is a 2018 Doubleday publication.

Taut Suspense- Impossible to put down!

Two young girls go missing from a local mall. However, the small-town police force is overwhelmed and ill equipped to handle the case, so the family hires bounty hunter, Alice Vega to find the missing girls.

From there, Alice hires a local guy, Max Caplan, a former member of law enforcement, who left the force under dubious circumstances.

In a taut race against the clock, Alice and Max forge a partnership, each bringing their own special skills to the investigation. Although the pair are not traditional detectives, the story works a lot like a procedural, but the plot is complex, dark, gritty, murky, fast-paced, and very smart.

Anytime I read a book with the missing child trope, it seems to have a sharper edge to it. But this story has two missing girls, a distraught single mother, and not much to go on, which creates a greater feeling of doom.

Vega and Caplan each had a unique style, and initially they had to make a few adjustments, but their partnership developed nicely. They both had a fierce drive, focus, and determination to bring those two little girls back to their mother.

I found myself immersed in the story, which held my rapt attention from start to finish. I can’t believe I forgot I had this book on my Kindle! Thanks to my GR friend, Betsy, for reminding me of this book, which also led to the realization that this author has already released the second book in the series! I can’t wait to read it!

Overall, this is a superb thriller, very well done!

*Content warnings:

I listened to small portions of this book on audio while I was working around the house. (I wasn’t very impressed with the audio version and can’t recommend it.) However, one thing about listening to books, as opposed to reading, is that I tend to notice the language a lot more. While some of the language was in context and fit the characterizations, some of it was over the top and unnecessary- in my opinion. Does everyone talk like that? My husband says that, yes, they do, and it’s not 'bleeping' attractive. LOL!
Profile Image for Mackey.
1,057 reviews364 followers
November 5, 2017

4.5 stars
Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna is everything that a good mystery/thriller should be! This fast past story was riveting, character driven, dark and twisty from beginning to end! Alice Vega, as the ceaseless bounty hunter, was an enigmatic character that drew you in and made you anxious to know more.

In a small town in New Jersey, two girls are taken from a shopping mall parking lot. After a few days without progress, the family calls in Alice Vega, a bounty hunter/private detective with a great record for finding people. She enlists the help of "Cap," who was forced into resignation from the police department.

This would be a run-of-the-mill chid abduction/P.I. story if it weren't for the extremely well drawn characters. Vega is one of the most captivating main characters I've come across in ages. In turn, the chemistry that develops between Vega and Cap is electric. It's not romance, it's not over done, it's the tingling hope of what could or might be. The missing girl's mother is perfectly portrayed as a very flawed but still good mother who is completely unraveling before our eyes. Finally, Cap's teenage daughter Nell - thank you Louisa Luna for giving us a bright, well articulated teenage girl who does not make us hate her within the first chapter! I love her and the relationship she has with Cap. Each and every character, from the main to the minute, were brilliantly captured by Luna.

Despite departmental politics and strange leads that appear to go nowhere, Vega has her methods for solving puzzles, most of which fall outside the lines of the law. In the end, however, she gets her bounty! I guarantee you that this is one puzzle you will not want to miss!

Many thanks to Netgalley, Doubleday and Louisa Luna for an advanced copy of the book.
Profile Image for Deanna .
665 reviews12.4k followers
July 4, 2018
My reviews can also be seen at: https://deesradreadsandreviews.wordpr...

2.75 Stars

When I first read the description for this novel, I knew it was one I had to read. I decided to try it on audio. Unfortunately, this audiobook and I didn’t mesh as well as I’d hoped.

Jamie and her two daughters, 8-year-old Bailey and 10-year-old Kylie are headed to a party. However, they need to stop at Kmart first to pick up a gift. Jamie heads into the store alone as she thinks it will be faster that way. When she comes out of the store again, she sees her car is still there, but the girls are gone. She tries not to panic…maybe they went into the ice cream store or another store close by to use the washroom. Maybe they went into Kmart to find their mother. But they didn’t….

The girls are gone.

Alice Vega is a bounty hunter hired to find the missing girls. Vega, in turn, hires former police officer turned private detective, Max Caplan to help her.

It really took me a long time to get through this audiobook. The story was good but I had a hard time connecting with some of the characters. Heavy on the dialogue, it felt like things weren’t happening as fast as they should be. Part of the problem could be the fact that I was having trouble with the narrator. There was only the one narrator for quite a few characters and unfortunately, I had a hard time with some of them. It definitely affected how I felt about the book. I frequently found myself drifting off to sleep or thinking about other things. But I still had to know how things turned out…so I kept listening. In the end, I’m glad I stuck it out.

This really could be a case of “it’s not you it’s me”. I’ve seen a lot of very positive reviews for this novel and I wonder if it was one that I should have read instead. It's hard to know for sure. I will likely check out more from this author, but I think I’ll read the book to see if that makes a difference.
Profile Image for j e w e l s.
309 reviews2,374 followers
March 13, 2018
I would not recommend you listen to this book. The actress narrating the book did a nice job for the most part, except when she had to portray so many different suspects/characters. Ugh. She could be really terrible to listen to then. And all those imitations of young guys/asthmatic old women/crusty police personnel just was too over the top to enjoy. I really prefer a subtle voice change when one narrator is reading for so many varied characters. There are few people talented enough to pull off tens of characters by actually acting it out.

Dear Audio Book Producers: In books with heavy casts of characters, please, either hire multiple actors or just one very talented narrator that can read with slight, subtle inflections for all the different parts. As far as the listener following the story, the author's words should take care of that.

It really is hard to form a definite opinion about this book since I couldn't fully embrace the audio experience. I did like the story's suspense and the characters of Cap and Vega.

I just learned this author has previously only written YA and this is her first foray into adult thrillers. That is exactly what it felt like. A quick read if you stick to the written version.
April 10, 2020
Two Girls Down is an entertaining yet disturbing dark psychology thriller that started off a little slow and confusing for me as our main characters Vega and Cap team up together to find two missing girls.

Louisa Luna does a fantastic job here creating very interesting and memorable characters here with Vega and Cap and his daughter Nell. The dynamics between them really made the story for me. She does a good job balancing Vega and Cap with their differences that complimented each other making them an interesting team. Cap being more realistic and Vega more like a superhuman who gets things done. I loved the dynamics between Cap and Nell and my heart warmed with the way they took care of each other, adding some softness to the darkness in the story.

Vega and Cap follow a few different leads and suspects and it was confusing to keep track of everything and after a while, I just gave up trying to keep the suspects straight. It didn’t take away from the story for me and I didn’t miss anything when that final shocking twist came that left me speechless. The ending is shocking, high on drama, disturbing and so brilliantly done. I highly recommend but with some caution as it’s a story about two missing girls.

Traveling Sister Read

Profile Image for Mary.
1,476 reviews495 followers
July 30, 2022

Two Girls Down is my first book from Louisa Luna, and while I probably won't read any of her previous books, I will definitely read any other adult books she will (hopefully) put out. This book was intense, very mysterious, and I had no clue who it was until it was revealed at the end.

The cover of this book is beautiful, and I'm sure it will be even prettier in person once the book is out. I read an ARC via NetGalley and the publisher, and it had a different cover on my uncorrected proof.

Vega is a very strong female character and I LOVED her. She literally kicked ass and it was amazing. Although this book had a very heavy subject manner it was very well done. Cringe worthy moments were interspersed with plenty of funny moments and one liners, and it was a very nice touch.

I also thought the main characters were well developed and I got to know them enough that I actually cared about them, that is to say I cared about Nell, Cap and Vega. You don't get all the details about any of their lives, but it was enough for me to connect to them and worry about their well being during this book.

It has plenty of action, and I found myself not wanting to put it down. Some parts got a little slow for me, but overall there was a ton of action, and it kept me hooked for the entire read.

My only small disappointment is what happened at the end with Vega and Cap, wish that would have ended differently.

Final Word: I would definitely recommend reading this when it comes out, or if you have NetGalley, requesting it now! So good.

*This book is set to be published on 01/09/2018*

*Special thanks to NetGalley and Doubleday Books for providing me with an electronic ARC of this book. My review is completely honest and unbiased
Profile Image for JanB .
1,147 reviews2,480 followers
March 31, 2018
This book is fast-paced and entertaining, with well-developed characters and an opening line that hooked me immediately: “Jamie Brandt is not a bad mother”. Jamie is a harried single mom who runs into a store to pick up a few items, leaving her 8 and 10-year-old daughters in the car. When she returns, the girls are missing.

The overworked and short-handed local police have no leads after several days, so the family hires Alice Vega, a former bounty hunter who has a great track record for finding missing children. She in turn teams up with Max Caplan (Cap), a former police officer. While the mystery of the missing girls is engaging, the real stars of this book are Cap and Vega.

Cap’s relationship with his teenage daughter was wonderful and it was refreshing to read about a teenager that isn’t annoying and obnoxious. Their relationship was one of the highlights of the book. I also loved how Cap and Vega interacted with one another and their determination to stop at nothing to solve the case. Vega is a badass with remarkable skills who reminded me a bit of Lisbeth Salander in the Dragon Tattoo series. She also has a mysterious past and demons that haunt her. The dialogue and chemistry between Cap and Vega kept me flipping the pages. I hope this is the start of a new series featuring these two. I'll be anxiously awaiting Louisa Luna's next book!

*This was a traveling sister read. For this and other reviews visit their blog:

*edited to add: for those who are squeamish about a book that involves children (like me!), the book is mainly about the investigation.
Profile Image for Linda.
1,231 reviews1,280 followers
July 4, 2018
"Don't stew in your juices, don't let anything sink in. Don't wait, don't bide your time, don't save your breath, don't sleep on it."

'Cause time is of the essence.....

Jamie Brandt runs into a store in the mall for a quick birthday party gift leaving her two young daughters in the car. Less hastle without the girls begging for items in the checkout line. In record breaking time, Jamie is back in the parking lot with shopping bag in hand. An empty car meets her eyes. No one seems to know what happened. A heinous nightmare in the making.

The Denville Police Department in a small town in Pennsylvania has its limits. With limited man power, a limited budget, and a limited skills police chief, the city of Denville doesn't seem to offer much in the way of solving this crime. Frustration sets in and Jamie's aunt hires a female bounty hunter from California who has had plenty of experience in finding lost children.

Louisa Luna introduces us to Alice Vega who possesses more dark corners and crevices herself than
the actual evidence trail she's now on. Alice's background will slowly be revealed throughout the pages with plenty more tucked in for much, much later. Small and compact, Alice is roughly hewned with more determination than a hardnosed bloodhound who readily picks up the scent of the no good.

But Denville lacks any backup for Alice. She contacts Max Caplan, a former police officer in Denville, who has a shifty story as to why he is no longer on the force. Luna hones in on her character of Caplan with such finesse. There is so much beneath his complicated layers which draws the reader in. He's human with a capital H. Caplan is newly divorced and shares custody of his sixteen year old daughter, Nell. Nell rounds out the story with her unique relationship with her dad. Vega is venturing into Small Town America, but the crimes are loaded into a horn-of-plenty.

Louise Luna has quite the crime novel here. She pulls no punches and real is real. If you pick this one up, you'll probably be wondering which roads Alice Vega and Max Caplan will be traveling on next......together as a newly found duo or perhaps trekking separating in California and Pennsylvania or both. Hope you're giving this quite a bit of thought, Louisa Luna. Please don't leave us sitting on the curb waiting.......
Profile Image for Sarah Joint.
445 reviews985 followers
January 4, 2018
An intense thriller based in my very own state of Pennsylvania... which doesn't paint the state in a very flattering light, but makes a valid point about a lot of small towns in America. This is an unpredictable book with a lot of action and twists, involving so many suspects that it's dizzying.

Hired by the family of two missing girls, Alice Vega drops everything and makes the trip to Pennsylvania from California. Only ten and eight, it's clear that this isn't a case of the girls just taking off. Their mother has issues of her own, but is clearly devastated and fraught with worry. If only she hadn't left them in that car to run into the store without being begged for toys or candy... if only they hadn't stopped at all. The clock is ticking, and everyone knows that the longer the young girls are missing, the less likely it is they'll be found alive. Vega enlists disgraced ex-cop and current private investigator Max Caplan to help, pulling him from his usual sordid cases into something much darker. He resists at first, but gives in. She'll need his old connections, his brain, and occasionally to rein her in.

High points include the complicated case, the weirdly charming banter between Alice and Max, the relationship between Max and his extremely likeable daughter Nell, and the unpredictability. My issues with the book are few. Vega seems too badass to be real life, and occasionally so many suspects and characters got a little confusing and I had to look back. A solid missing person thriller that manages to inject something new into a popular genre!

Could this possibly be the start of a series? I'd certainly read the next one. I could also see it as either a series or mini-series on TV, it would certainly be one that kept you on the edge of your seat.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Net Galley and Doubleday Books, thank you! My review is honest and unbiased.
Profile Image for David Putnam.
Author 16 books1,519 followers
August 11, 2019
Really wanted to love this book and did until about page 200. A big part of the problem falls firmly onto my head, I was a cop too many years. The second issue, the writer part of me saw the prose disintegration. Almost as if someone else edited the last hundred pages.
There are too many things wrong with the weapons and tactics and the way the ex-cop would think. I understand that fiction is not what happens in the real world. But what is important is what the reading world has come to accept.
Just few of the issues: The Sig Sauer doesn't have a safety; you don't stand out in plain view a hundred feet from a target house, argue and wrestle trying to decide if your going to engage the armed kidnappers inside the house. You don't taint a police investigation with a single photograph identification, and the list goes on. And again I understand and accept the reading world's view on these kinds of books but I hit a saturation point where the characters are just doing too many stupid things. That's what happened in the last hundred pages. Easy fix, in the future have a cop vet the manuscript.
The disintegration of the prose was the more prominent shift from the third close voice to the third distant voice during the action scenes. It was almost as if the author didn't like the violence and took a half step back when telling what happened.
Loved the first two hundred pages, loved the interaction between the two characters. The last hundred pages, meh.
I like it well enough that I will buy the author's next book and give it a chance.
David Putnam Author of the Bruno Johnson series.
Profile Image for Liz.
2,031 reviews2,543 followers
December 16, 2017

Talk about how to grab a reader. “Jamie Brandt was not a bad mother. Later she would tell that to anyone who would listen: police, reporters, lawyers, her parents, her boyfriend, her dealer, the new bartender with the knuckle tattoos at Schultz’s…”.

What Luna does is get the characters exactly right. In just a few pages, she was able to nail the main characters. I loved Cap from right off the bat. An ex-cop and current PI, he loves his teenage daughter and the two of them together just seemed real. And Alice Vega, as well, unsuccessfully trying yoga to calm herself down. By the end of the first chapter, Luna had me sold.

This is a fast paced book that kept me totally engaged. One of those books i was loath to put down. Lots of phrases that would just nail a scene or a character. Like this “he saw Jamie for what she was: an unstable element, a cut wire spraying sparks”. Yes, Alice is a tad unbelievable, in a Jack Reacher kind of way; she always has a solution to getting what she needs. And I didn’t quite connect with the little bit of romance in the book. But overall this book gets a definite thumbs up and I will definitely seek out the next book that Luna writes.

My thanks to netgalley and Doubleday Books for an advance copy of this book.

Profile Image for Dorie  - Cats&Books :).
994 reviews2,784 followers
August 12, 2018
This is a very well done, page turning, high tension mystery/thriller. I was engaged from the very first page and read it in two sittings. Ms. Luna’s writing is smooth flowing and her characters are very well described, in particular the two main characters in the book. The only thing I didn’t like about the book was that in parts the back stories on Alice Vega, the private investigator and the ex-policeman that she engages, “Cap” Max Caplan, get a little wordy. At some points I just wanted the story to move forward without the extensive internal dialogue about what these characters traumatic histories were.
As the blurb explains, Jaime Brandt, a young mother, leaves her two daughters, ages eight and ten, Bailey and Kylie in the car while she runs into the store to pick up a birthday gift for a party her daughter is about to attend. When she returns to the car, both of the girls are gone. After frantically searching the stores in the mall and the parking lot, she enlists the help of the police.
The police force is extremely short handed and overworked. They work the case but things don’t seem to be moving along quickly enough. Jaime’s parents hire a private investigator, Alice Vega, known for finding missing children to help with the case. Alice in turn hires an ex policeman, Max Caplan to help her since he knows the workings of the local police form having retired from the force a few years previously under somewhat dubious circumstances.
Alice and Max make a great pair. Alice has her own “techy” whom she enlists whenever she is digging for information on any of the families or others that may have known the girls. He provides lots of information about location, history, etc a lot more quickly than the police do. This of course leads to some “locking of the horns” between the local police and the PI’s. Eventually the search gets so frantic that the FBI is called in and it’s seen to be imperative that they share information.
The story is a good one, although horrifying as a parent and grandparent to read. The psychopath and equally disturbed partner have committed some unspeakable crimes and I was only able to breathe easily again after they were caught, it felt that intense to me at some points.
I would recommend this book to anyone wanting a fast paced, character driven thriller. I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley, thank you.
Profile Image for Dennis.
776 reviews1,486 followers
November 24, 2017
Louisa Luna's Two Girls Down is a binge-worthy whodunnit crime fiction novel that realistically paints how rural America is affected by today's drug epidemic. The story starts off with single mother Jamie Brandt taking her two daughters Kylie and Bailey to the mall so they can get a gift for Kylie's friend's birthday party. Jamie is a struggling single parent in a town where income inequality is rampant. Denville, Pennsylvania is a small town outside of Philadelphia—modest, poor, ignorant, and proud, 'Murica. After Jamie returns from the mall to get her daughter's friend a gift, she is startled to see that her daughters are missing. The kidnapping of Kylie and Bailey Brandt has received considerable attention in the news; throwing the town of Denville on a loop. The police force is struggling to find any leads, so the Brandt family hires private investigator Alice Vega to help with the case.

Alice Vega is a no-nonsense Californian who acts first and speaks later. She has an impeccable track record in finding missing children, arriving to Denville and ready to investigate. The town doesn't take to Alice very well—they too proud to accept her services. Alice quickly starts figuring out that things in Denville aren't exactly what they seem. Everyone has an alibi, everyone has a story, but who has something to gain from these two missing girls?

Two Girls Down was a very interesting read for me because when I first picked it up, I was initially thinking, "oh this will be just like every other crime fiction/detective novel", but I was happily mistaken. Alice Vega might actually be my favorite heroine of all time. She is a bad ass to the Nth degree! She is witty, strong, funny, smart—ugh I can keep going. I really hope Louisa Luna continues writing stories including Alice Vega because she really is just amazing and nothing I can say here can perfectly describe how much I fangirl over her. Alice Vega easily gives me the ability to give this read a 4 star rating without even batting an eye.

I also really enjoyed the way the plot began to unfold before my eyes. I really thought this story was going to take a certain turn, but I was pleasantly surprised to be proven wrong. It kept me on my toes and captured my attention. The story unfolds in an interesting, unique way; without the gimmicky plot twists that many novels are throwing out there to try to shock the reader. Ms. Luna also intelligently mentions the drug epidemic sprawling throughout America; showcasing it through the town of Denville and its inhabitants. I really haven't picked up anything recently that portrays that aspect of American society and it was something that actually made me take a second to think about. It was a really robust story that pieced everything together seamlessly.

Two Girls Down will be released January 9, 2018. Thank you Doubleday Books for my advanced copy for my honest review.
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,159 reviews36.8k followers
April 29, 2018
4 Captivating Stars.

Jamie Brandt makes a quick stop at the mall with her two girls to grab a birthday present. She’s just going to leave her girls in the car for a quick sec as she’ll be in and out, no big deal. When she comes out however, they are gone. Just like that.

Jamie’s family hires Private Detective Alice Vega to find the girls. Finding missing people is Vega’s speciality. Needing help, she partners with a former cop, Max Caplan a/k/a “Cap.” Tough and funny - somehow they immediately trust each other and make one heck of a team. The cops however, don’t want Vega and Cap investigating this case and they try to stop them at every turn, yet Vega and Cap are determined. They will do whatever it takes to find these girls, even if it gets them into trouble or, in the alternative, if trouble finds them first.

“Two Girls Down” by Louisa Luna kept me on my toes. Talk about a fabulous suspense that grabs hold from the first page and doesn’t let up! The character development was spot on. I loved the interplay between Vega and Cap! They have an understated chemistry and I can’t help but hope I see them again sometime soon. I also loved the relationship between Cap and his daughter Nell. Each character brought another layer to this well written suspense.

I read this novel with my Traveling Sisters, Brenda, Kaceey and Jan and really enjoyed the group read! For the full Traveling Sister Group Review, please see Brenda and Norma’s fabulous blog: https://twosisterslostinacoulee.com

Published on Goodreads, Twitter and Amazon.
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,165 reviews1,523 followers
December 5, 2017
When a young mother is out running errands with her two young daughters she decides to leave the girls outside in the car to quickly run into the store. After returning to the car she finds the children gone and frantically begins to search the surrounding area but when the girls aren't found the police are called and the search begins.

With very little to go on and hope disappearing the family decides to hire Alice Vega, a private investigator from California that has become famous for returning missing children. After Vega arrives she brings former police officer Max Caplan in to help her solve the case and the two begin chasing down every lead possible to bring the girls home to their mother.

Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna is a thrilling suspense read as the search begins for two missing children which of course would have most readers on the edge of their seat. The investigators and gritty and tough and won't quit until they find the missing children and get them home safely to their mother.

While I enjoyed the intensity of the story with the missing girls involved I had a bit of trouble connecting to the main character, Vega. Obviously she's meant to be all business and tough as nails but with little to go on about her she seemed a bit robotic to me. On the other hand I did come to love Cap, the single father who had left the police force and now working as a PI. There's a touch of a romantic connection that quite honestly I could have done without too.

I would also mention with this book I found it incredibly heavy on the dialogue, pages and pages of conversations to the point that I wondered why some of it is even included and a few times it felt a bit unnatural. I hadn't picked up a book that relied quite so much on the conversations of the characters carrying the whole story so it seemed a bit odd to me.

In the end there were some things I loved and some not quite so much but the story overall is one that is certainly a page turner leaving me to be open to trying this author's work again in the future.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via Penguin's First to Read.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.wordpress....
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,739 reviews14.1k followers
January 18, 2018
A small town in Pennsylvania, a town considered safe, a mother makes a mistake with horrific results.A single mom in a hurry, she leaves her you get daughter's in her vehicle and runs into Walmart to grab a last minute birthday gift. When she returns to her vehicle, she experiences a parents worst nightmare. Her girls are gone.

The grandmother hires Alice Vega, a bounty Hunter who specializes in finding missing children. When she gets into town she hires Cap, an ex policeman who has a storied past with the department. I enjoyed both these characters, Vega is a take no holds, follow no rules kind of woman. Her only goal is to find these two young girls, preferable alive. She is a match for any man, tough, trained and deadly. Cap, divorced, finds her intriguing, and he is equally committed to their goal. They compliment each other wonderfully. Cap, the more tender of the two, not that he isn't her match in toughness, but because his teenage daughter Nell, keeps him grounded. She is an amazing in young woman, with a sharp insight of her own. The relationship between Nell and Cap is warm and so endearing.

I'm expecting great things from this series which is off to a prodigious start. It is perfectly balanced, between personal and case, which I admit has been difficult to find in my recent reading. The characters are fully fleshed, intriguing and I look forward to what I hopefully expect will be their further partnership.

ARC from Edelweiss.

Profile Image for Mandy.
320 reviews321 followers
February 15, 2018
This book wasn’t what I expected. Two sisters are abducted from a parking lot and the real story of what happened to them is absolutely astonishing and unbelievable.

Alice Vega comes into the story as a private investigator hired to find Kylie and Bailey. She teams up with Max Caplan and together they run through all kinds of mazes to find these girls. Mix that with the local PD, another two missing girls, and the girls’ mother and this story makes for a fast paced read that will keep you guessing who took the girls and why.

Luna does a great job keeping the real kidnapper hidden until the end. I had no idea who it was and then when it was revealed I was genuinely surprised!

Would like to see Cap and Vega together more!
Profile Image for Malia.
Author 6 books549 followers
March 27, 2018
Even though this is not a terribly long book, it took me what felt like ages to finish! At the same time, I didn't want to abandon it, because it wasn't bad and I definitely wanted to know what happened, so I kept reading. What I like about the book was mostly the detective Max Caplan, who felt like the only well-developed and interesting character. In fact, I would read more novels with his as the protagonist. That being said, he shared the starring role with Alice Vega, who just felt like the tired caricature of the troubled detective with nothing to lose. I've seen that too many times, and it does no compel me anymore. The story itself was engaging, though oddly, not gripping even though it centers around the disappearance of two young girls. I usually prefer not to read mysteries where children are the victims or hurt, but I picked this as my Book of the Month some time ago, so something must have intrigued me. The book is set in a town in Pennsylvania, and I felt the author did the place a disservice by making just about every character seen a hick who can barely speak proper English. It felt manipulative and I didn't like it. The ending, too, felt a little forced and too typical in a way that I would discuss now for fear of spoiling it. All in all, it wasn't the worst book or worst thriller (though only moderately thrilling), however it was also not the best by any means. I might read another book about Caplan in the future, but I won't be rushing to it.
Find more reviews and bookish fun at http://www.princessandpen.com
Profile Image for Lisa.
754 reviews
June 25, 2020
Jamie Brandt is a mother who has two daughters Kylie 10 & Bailey 8 they always want something or need things done she needs a break away, but when both daughters go missing from a parking lot in a mall she is distraught, beside herself with worry, she brings in Alice Vega an expert in missing children.

To help her she brings in a former cop who has left the force in dubious circumstances Max Caplan who has demons of his own including a teenage daughter Nell, but when Caplan,s daughter Nell is taken the anty goes up as Vega & Caplan dig deeper they discover a pedophile ring is involved, what happens at this point is a race against time to find Kylie & Bailey & Nell.

This was my first read of Louise Luna & it was a terrific first in the series for me it was fast paced well written thoroughly entertaining & the characters were likeable Alice is a hard nosed cop who has to make it in a mans world she is tough & will not take a back step. the prose was set in Denville PA, i loved everything about this book even bought the 2nd in the series half way through a must read.
Profile Image for Amy.
1,877 reviews1,880 followers
January 5, 2018
Good God this was one hell of a roller coaster ride! From the strong opening sentence all the way until the end this one had me glued to the pages as I wondered what happened to Bailey and Kylie Brandt?! Missing children stories always get to me, no idea why I’m so drawn to them because it’s such a nightmare thing to imagine happening to my own kids, yet they never fail to gain my attention and Two Girls Down was one of the most riveting missing persons stories that I’ve read in awhile.

Vega and Cap are not your usual duo in terms of people investigating a case which provides a unique point of view. She’s a sort of bounty hunter and he’s an ex cop turned PI who is mainly is hired to catch cheating spouses. They’re an unlikely partnership especially as they have never met each other before the Brandt case, but they are a force to be reckoned with and I’m really hoping that they’ll be a sequel. Vega is such a badass, I love reading about someone reckless, you have no idea what they’ll do next and that keeps things so exciting. Cap isn’t quite as unpredictable as Vega, he has a daughter to worry about so he walks the straight and narrow a bit more than she does but he has a certain type of charm that appealed to me.

I’m avoiding the plot because it went in so many dark places I didn’t see coming, I binge read this and think that’s the best way to tackle this one. It’s fast paced with a ton of red herrings and misdirections and the final resolution surprised me so much, I had never even considered the possibility and that’s rare for me. While the resolution of the case satisfied me I was a little underwhelmed by the actual ending, after such a strong book I had hoped for a bit more, but overall a really fantastic read, I would definitely read another book from Luna.
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,130 reviews30.3k followers
February 10, 2019
I loved this book. I loved the partnership between Cap and Vega. And what could top that experience? Finding out there’s a sequel in the works! YAY!

In small town Pennsylvania, two young sisters disappear from a mall parking lot. Their mother is desperate to find them and hires a bounty hunter named Alice Vega.

The police refuse to work with Vega. With budget cuts and crime problems spreading them too thin, they aren’t available to consult with her. Needing some kind of assistance, she seeks out Max “Cap” Caplan, a former cop with a scandalized past.

With no leads and little information available, where will Vega and Cap begin, and will they ever find the girls?

Two Girls Down is a swift page-turner! It is engrossing, and Cap and Vega feel real and relatable. They have the perfect partner-type chemistry I love to experience between two sleuths. There’s also a mystery within the mystery here because Vega herself seems to be hiding an elusive past.

With a fast-paced, anxiety-inducing plot, I fell for this thriller with full investment. Please, please, please give us more books with Cap and Vega, Louisa Luna! I think you have a dynamic duo on your hands!

Thanks to the publisher for the complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
Profile Image for Jonetta.
2,207 reviews928 followers
June 24, 2020
Jamie Brandt does what every harried parent thinks about doing all the time...she leaves her two young girls in the car while she runs into a store for a quick errand. The worst thing happens as she returns to the car and finds ten-year old Kylie and eight-year old Bailey have vanished. Denville, Pennsylvania is a small town where things like this don’t happen. The overwhelmed police department clearly doesn’t have the resources to find the girls quickly so the desperate family reaches out to Alice Vega, a sort of bounty hunter based in California with an excellent track record in finding missing people. Alice takes the assignment and quickly hones in on Max Caplan, a former detective with the police department who resigned in disgrace, to team up with her to find Kylie and Bailey.

I’m used to a story being really good in character development or plotting but it’s rare to see both done so well in one book. Typically, it negatively affects the pace or the story suffers from the length it takes to accomplish both. Not here as I emerged with a clear sense of the primary characters, especially Alice, Max and Jamie, and was enthralled by the fascinating turns taken throughout the story. Not too much predictability here and my suspects shifted often, as well as my suppositions about what was going on. Alice is an enigma and I definitely want to learn more about her history. My opinion of Jamie transformed slowly through the course of the story because the writer skillfully managed that. And Max brought a complexity and normalcy that balanced with Alice.

I enjoyed this story for all the reasons stated above and generally liked the listening experience. However, as talented as Tavia Gilbert is as a narrator, I think it asked a lot of her to manage so many diverse and distinctive characters. This was a clear example of where the use of multiple narrators would be advised. I still would recommend the audio version because she did well and it worked for me overall. This was an extremely interesting story with so many great elements that engaged me from beginning to the extraordinary end. I’m ready to jump right into the next book.

Posted on Blue Mood Café
Profile Image for Jasmine from How Useful It Is.
1,298 reviews342 followers
December 29, 2017
About: Two Girls Down is a mystery thriller written by Louisa Luna. It will be published on 1/9/2018 by Doubleday, an imprint of Random House, 320 pages. The genres are mystery, thriller, crime, and fiction.

My Experience: I started reading Two Girls Down on 12/19/17 and finished it on 12/28/17. I love the start. I read this book during my Christmas travel and sometimes only read snippets of it so I didn’t fully enjoy the read as much as I normally would. I would have loved it if Cap caught some interesting cheaters. The one he caught is so mellow. I do like Vega’s contact “the Bastard” though it would have been great if he’s in the story a bit more. I would love to follow his train of thoughts while he digs around for info. He seems to have a good sense of humor. I like getting to know of the bounty hunter/private investigator profession reading this book.

This book is told in the third person point of view following Jamie Brandt, a single mother of two girls: Kylie 10 and Bailey 8, both went missing while she’s inside the store buying a birthday gift for Kylie’s friend. The story also introduces Max Caplan (Cap), an ex-cop and a current private investigator concerning on catching cheaters for a price. He’s a single dad to a teenage daughter Nell. The third main character is Alice Vega, 33, a bounty hunter specializing on finding missing persons. She doesn’t work with the police unless they want to. She was hired by Jamie’s aunt to find Jamie’s missing daughters. The grief a mom goes through while waiting for news of her daughters is tough. Alice hires Max to help her with the case. They both follow clues that leads to more clues to find the Brandt girls, though often they find more than they were looking for.

This book is well written. It keeps me wanting more and it’s intense at times. The story involves children but foul language and extreme content are in it. The boy in the tank freak me out. I have a love and hate relationship with Vega and Cap. Their mysterious background is not very interesting to read for me, but I do like them doing detective work and chasing after clues. The romance is slow which is good but then it came and it was so sudden and without any passion. There are so many characters in this book so I would recommend if you read, to read it within 3 days so you won’t lose track of who’s who. I lost track of them since I was only able to read a little each day. I love books with clues leading to another clues and though, most of the suspects it points to are troubled individuals that could be predictable, it’s still a great read and I do recommend everyone to read this book! As always, I can’t never guess the ending and this book didn’t fail to surprise me.

Pro: clues leading to more clues, mystery, suspense, fast pace, humor, diversity,

Con: I personally just have a love/hate relationship with main characters

I rate it 4 stars!

***Disclaimer: Many thanks to the author Louisa Luna, publisher Doubleday, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.

Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com for more details
Profile Image for Laura.
425 reviews1,245 followers
December 20, 2017
3.5 stars
“Did you see two girls in party dresses?” she asked the people behind the counter. “Eight and ten years old. Did they come in to use the bathroom?” Then to the couple, and the man: “Did you see two girls?” They all said no. She left, looked back at her car, still empty.

When two young girls go missing from a strip mall parking lot, the family reaches out to a bounty hunter, Vega, known for finding missing kids. She's the type to get shit done, no matter what it takes. When the local police force shows to be of no help, Vega turns to former cop, Cap.

Cap resigned from the police force after a scandal. Now he works as a PI usually working cheating cases, looking forward to the moment when he can crack open a beer if his daughter Nell isn't around.
Sometimes these things looked like fairy tales at first. But they never were. As soon as you got closer you saw the damage, the disease, not what monsters and wolves could do, but what regular men could do to a kid.

Vega & Cap prove to be good at what they do as they turn over every leaf, investigate every clue and break every witness. Vega is a force. It also doesn't hurt that Vega has a guy known as "the Bastard" who hacks and finds hard-to-find information when needed.

The characters stand out as well-developed and fleshed out. They feel like real, flawed people. Except Cap's daughter Nell who just seems like a dream teenage daughter. I loved their father-daughter relationship. Vega is the one we know the least about. Although, as the story goes on, we do learn more about her complex history. We are just privy to more background information on Cap from the start. And Jamie, the mother of the missing girls, is a fascinating read. Yes, she's stressed out from her daughters going missing, but she is a mess herself.

There were moments with such strong writing. Luna even managed to get some emotion from me to the point where I thought if I actually had children myself, this would be a hard book to read. I wish the beginning hadn't been so slow to build. I'll be curious to see if this ends up being a new series featuring Vega & Cap.

This is one to pick up if you enjoy twisty, character-driven thrillers.
Profile Image for Krystin | TheF**kingTwist.
467 reviews1,733 followers
August 30, 2022
Book Blog | Bookstagram

Favourite read of 2018 so far!

This was just so much fun, a pretty perfect example of what a crime thriller-whodunnit should be.

I loved the enigmatic bounty hunter/P.I. Alice Vega. Not a lot was revealed about her, just enough for you to know her without knowing her. There is still a lot of space to grow with Vega; more story that can be told.

The minute she popped onto the page I knew I was in fictional love. Vega is damaged and snarky and ruthless, smart and cynical, with a short bullshit fuse. She has no problem beating the shit out of her skips or using her talent for mental warfare to get her way. I want to be just like her when I grow up.

Two little girls go missing from a strip mall parking lot when their mother runs into a store for just a minute. The police are understaffed, underfunded and overworked. Time to find the girls is running out, so the family hires Vega to find them. She has a reputation for finding people when the police can’t.

“So you find missing people, that right? How many you found so far?”


“How many times you been hired is the real question?”


“How many of them were kids?”

Vega stood up and said, “Most of them.”

“When you found them, were they alive, or what?”

Vega looked her right in the eyes and said, “Sixteen alive. One dead. And one alive but” – she tapped her head – “dead.”

Vega hires local PI, and disgraced former cop, Max ‘Cap’ Caplan to help her. Cap was a fantastic counterpoint for Vega – his quiet logic and thoughtful actions were exactly what Vega needed to smooth out her violent reactions and impulsive moves. Cap’s relationship with his daughter, Nell, was sweet and fun, and brought a grounding element to the otherwise dramatic, non-stop sequence of events.

I also appreciate how Luna created a sense of attraction between Cap and Vega, but it stayed rational within the context of the situation, and never turned into an actual romance. It felt human and honest and real.

This is a very fast-paced read, like my fingers and eyes are burning. The investigation took so many different avenues that I never got bored. There was no lag in the pace for me, no pointless filler scenes or a character's “thinking in the shower” chapter. GET OUT OF THE SHOWER, I DON’T CARE.

The only thing I was missing was my preferred level of detail. I don’t like bare minimalism and I don’t like over-saturated. Somewhere in the middle is my sweet spot. I want to know how someone’s hair looks and what clothes they choose to wear to express their character. But I also don’t need to know the colour of every highlight or the brand of their clothes or every accessory they chose.

This book was just a tad too minimalism for me. There was a deliberate holding back of who Vega is as a person, and I understand that choice as an author if your plan is to turn this into a series – but I still need to know some of the other stuff.

This book was alive to me. I loved it.

⭐⭐⭐⭐½ | 4.5 stars rounded up
Profile Image for Lisa.
625 reviews236 followers
December 19, 2017
Two Girls Down
Louisa Luna

MY RATING ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️▫️
PUBLISHER Doubleday Books
PUBLISHED January 9, 2018

A riveting and entertaining page-turner that will keep you guessing all night long.

Two young sisters, Kylie, age 10 and Bailey, age 8, disappear from a strip mall parking lot in Denville Pennsylvania. Jamie Brandt, the girls mother was not a bad mother, but she was not a perfect mother either. Jamie’s wealthy aunt hires Alice Vega, a tireless private investigator from California who specializes in child abductions. The local police department refuses to share information with her, so Vega hires a former detective, Max Caplan to assist her in untangling the web of lies. With little to go on Vega and Caplan relentlessly follows one clue to the next in a heroic attempt to find the girls before time runs out.

TWO GIRLS DOWN is a riveting and entertaining mystery and the pages practically turn themselves. The story is intriguing, and it is next to impossible to figure out who had taken the girls. We are drawn to the answer just like a moth is drawn to a flame.

LOUISE LUNA’s character ensemble was perfect, the bad-ass private detective, the disgraced former cop, the not so perfect mom, all came to life as real people on the page. Vega’s self-confidence and her take charge attitude was arresting. You never knew what she was going to do next. She was definitely not a predictable character. She’s a woman who wants to get things done, and get them done in the most expedient way possible. When it comes to finding the missing girls she doesn’t have time for niceties. Teaming her with the more sensitive Caplan was brilliant. Caplan’s relationship with his teenage daughter Nell, was endearing and a cleverly layered part of the story.

Mystery lovers will appreciate this story. While there were some abrupt and surprising jumps backward in time to fill in characters’ backstory it was not enough to detract from the overall goodness of the story

Thanks to Netgalley and Doubleday for an advanced reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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