It's up to Grayson Sykes to find her. Although she is reluctant to track down a woman who may not want to be found, Gray's search for Isabel Lincoln becomes more complicated and dangerous with every new revelation about the woman's secrets and the truth she's hidden from her friends and family.
Featuring two complicated women in a dangerous cat and mouse game, And Now She's Gone explores the nature of secrets -- and how violence and fear can lead you to abandon everything in order to survive.
RACHEL HOWZELL HALL l is the critically acclaimed author and Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist for And Now She’s Gone, which was also nominated for the Lefty-, Barry-, Shamus- and Anthony Awards and the Audible Originals bestseller How It Ends. A New York Times bestselling author of The Good Sister with James Patterson, Rachel is an Anthony-, International Thriller Writers- and Lefty Award nominee and the author of They All Fall Down, Land of Shadows, Skies of Ash, Trail of Echoes and City of Saviors in the Detective Elouise Norton series. Her next thriller, These Toxic Things, out in September 2021, recently received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, calling the novel ‘cleverly-plotted’ and ‘a refreshing take on the serial killer theme.’
Rachel is a former member of the board of directors for Mystery Writers of America and has been a featured writer on NPR’s acclaimed Crime in the City series and the National Endowment for the Arts weekly podcast; she has also served as a mentor in Pitch Wars and the Association of Writers Programs. Rachel lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter. For more information, visit www.rachelhowzell.com
Her next novel And Now She’s Gone will be published in September 2020. You can find her at www.rachelhowzell.com and on Twitter @RachelHowzell.
Yoowza ! This is outstanding, powerful, twisty, riveting, surprising and absolutely unputdownable! I have to admit I wish this book wasn’t a standalone because I’ll be so pleased to read more adventures of Grayson Skies. I hope the author reconsider to write more books with this memorable character.
This is a remarkable story of broken, abused, neglected souls: Grayson Skies is a private investigator with troubled past, abused by a monster calls himself husband dearest for years. Now she has a clean slate, working on a case of Isabel Lincoln: a missing woman with troubled past and rumored to be abused by her boyfriend. As you continue to read two women’s back stories, you start to see the similarities: they are both beaten, humiliated and abandoned. They eventually do whatever it takes to survive! But are their stories really similar or there are some missing pieces don’t fit the entire puzzle properly.
Grayson is at the edge of breakdown, drinking too much, always looking over her shoulder to make sure she’s not followed, carrying mace, sleeping with a gun under her pillow and as she continues digging more about Isabel’s past, she brings out more dirty secrets and twisty facts which she never expected to find. And of course getting a text message from monster husband dearest who finally found her whereabouts makes things more complicated.
I’m stopping right now and I highly recommend you to read this book and enjoy all those jaw dropping, mind blowing, nail biter, head spinning, entertaining moments.
My spidey senses worked overtime to guess the final twist: it was really well-played and great one!
Overall: Well-developed, emotionally layered characterization, gripping, thrilling story telling skills and absolutely satisfying conclusion earned well-deserved five stars and shiny place at the my top ten thrillers of 2020! I TRULY LOVED IT!
My tbr turned into a Godzilla: it gets more humongous and threatening at each second because I already feed it with several books of this author!
Special thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan/ Tor- Forge for sharing this incredible Arc with me and introduce me this fantastic author. I’m looking forward to read more works of her.
"That's us women: doing what we gotta do to survive. Anything to stay above ground for one more day."
I've sat here for days chewing on the meat of this story and appreciating all the ways that Rachel Howzell Hall didn't fall into the rut of today's mediocre crime fiction, and I still do not think I can do this book justice with my review. If you've been following my reviews here for awhile, then you know that I used to be a huge mystery/suspense/thriller junkie (hello, my name is The Suspense Is Thrilling Me), but over the past year I've consumed considerably less titles in those genres, mainly due to the watering down of plots and overly saturated market containing a multitude of look-alike tales. And Now She's Gone is one of the most enjoyable, outstanding, and remarkable crime fiction novels I've devoured in quite some time, and if you enjoy character driven mysteries, I think you'll enjoy this one as well.
Alright, let's address the elephant in the room. "But Chelsea, this book is SO LONG." I hear you, except it's really not that long? Somehow, as a majority, we readers have steadily been losing the ability to focus on fiction longer than 300 pages. I'm not sure if it's the growing pressure of having to read ALL OF THE BOOKS and read them all immediately, or if we've been steadily conditioned by the shortening of novels and authors having to push out a book or two a year, but we tend to assume that long books are for fantasy readers and the birds. I'm here to tell you that it is ok to pick up long books in whatever vein you want, so hopefully you'll give this almost 400 page novel a chance. *Thank you for coming to my TED talk.*
Now, on to the book! Readers who enjoy changes between the present and past tense will love how complex And Now She's Gone's format is; we alter between Grayson Sykes in the present and her search for missing woman Isabel Lincoln and the past abusive relationship of Natalie Dixon by her husband Sean. To say anymore would delve into spoiler territory, but suffice it to say that both aspects are equally gripping and keep the story from having a stale feeling that can come with procedural type books. The beauty of this tale is that there is the added element of wondering whether or not Isabel wants to be found.
As we follow the trail alongside Gray, we discover many shocking twists, but we also develop a deep affinity for our main character and her group of friends/coworkers. I can honestly say that I had no clue how this book would end, and that I am itching to see this standalone turned into the first book in a series featuring Gray, Kick, and their office investigating various crimes. If you're looking for crime fiction with substance, excellent writing, and important thematic inclusions, such as a hard look at racial injustice and domestic abuse, And Now She's Gone shouldn't just be on your TBR, it should be on your must read list. If you have financial means, I implore you to pre-order this one, or to go ahead and place your hold/request this title at your local library.
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy.
And Now She's Gone deals with brand new Private Investigator Grayson Sykes, on her very first case, searching for missing Isabel Lincoln. It appears that Isabel is missing by choice and her cardiologist boyfriend might not even care to look for her if she hadn't taken off with his dog, Kenny G. The boyfriend may have been abusive and once Gray knows that Isabel is alive, she's conflicted about how to proceed with the case. Gray knows abuse well, as we see as the story progresses, and she's not going to betray a fellow woman running from a brutal relationship.
Gray was likable enough, nervous about her first solo PI job, having trouble finding a working pen, losing major coolness points as she accidentally dumps out her entire purse, while interviewing the boyfriend. Gray is a smart woman, trying to find her rhythm with her new job responsibilities, worthy of good women friends, and willing to look out for the safety of other women. But Gray seems to think and speak in metaphors, way too many of them, and it got tiring, even early into the story. Still, the attraction of this story will be the strong women who tire of abusive relationships and are willing to do something to change that part of their lives.
Expected publication: September 22nd 2020
Thank you to Macmillan Publishers/Forge Books and NetGalley for this ARC.
Grayson Sykes has just been handed her first case as a PI. A case of a missing woman. A boyfriend looking for his girlfriend and dog. But does she want to be found? Grayson doesn’t think so. “Probably because she smelled the crazy on him and didn’t want it to get in her favorite coat. Hard to get the stink of nuts out of wool. Gray had lost many old outfits that way.” The problem is, it’s the nut job that's hired her. I just loved Grayson. She’s got her own past, her own dark secrets, her own abusive husband. We’re given glimpses of her past in alternating chapters. She’s still looking over her shoulder, waiting to see if her husband manages to track her down. She’s still learning the ropes and I appreciated that she’s not painted as some PI savant. Although it did frustrate me that she was so stupid when it came to her health. I love when I think I know where an author is going and they just throw a big old curveball right in my face. Because that’s exactly what happened here. And not just once. This is a fun, fast paced mystery. I haven’t read any other books by Hall, but I sure want to now. Warning - there are a lot of descriptions of domestic violence. I received a free ARC from Macmillan Publishing I’m exchange for an honest review.
Grayson Skies is put on the case. It may be her first as a P.I. but she knows a thing or two about disappearing.
Excerpt: Natalie Dixon, a woman Gray knew once upon a time, had disappeared like that. Unlike the men who disappeared, women left their egos behind along with their keys, photo identification, and unpaid electric bills. These women may have wondered about their past lives-What are they doing back home? How are they living without me? Did somebody finally wash those damned dishes? -but they rarely did more than wonder. They never visited old haunts, They never searched their names on Google or checked their Facebook pages. Unlike most men who vanished, women rarely got caught. They just wanted a new beginning."
There were one or two passages like the one I just shared that made me hopeful that this could be a 4 or 5 star read for me.
BUT, unfortunately, the MAJORITY of the author’s descriptions were METAPHORS and that did NOT resonate with me. Nobody thinks or speaks this way so the dialogue and prose did not sound natural, and it took me out of the story.
I rapidly lost interest.
This cat and mouse, cross country chase DID go in an unexpected direction, but it came out of left field and did not match with the storyline which had been put in place in chapter one.
This book was just not a good fit for my personal taste.
I received a free ARC of "And, Now She's Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall from Macmillan in exchange for an honest review."
How do you find a woman who doesn’t want to be found?
Shortest Summary Ever: Private Investigator Grayson Sykes is on her first case - finding a woman named Isabel Lincoln. The problem is Isabel may not be missing, she might be in hiding, and Grayson isn’t sure how she feels about that.
Thoughts: What I liked is the unique plot. Most missing person books it’s always so clear cut - help, our daughter/sister/wife is missing and a PI or cop comes in to find nefarious people doing sketchy things, finding the missing person - over, yay! In this case, the odd twist is that Isabel might not be lost... or maybe she is... Any more would be a spoiler. That suspense is done extremely well and made the book move quickly - a taut pace with quick page-turns. I found myself thinking about the book - it was unpredictable and that’s rare for me. Reading mysteries like I do I tend to find similar foreshadowing that reveals too much too soon, but not this book.
But a pet peeve of mine reared its head - weak female protagonist who does foolish, uneducated actions, has to be rescued by wealthy handsome man. I’m so OVER this trope. This book would have been so much better had Grayson been a stronger woman and not (literally) a bumbling nonprofessional. It’s a personal thing, so it might not bother other readers as it does me.
All my reviews available at scrappymags.com
Genre: Mystery/Domestic Thriller
Recommend to: If the “damsel in distress” archetype doesn’t bother you, you’re going to love this book - it’s well-written and fast-paced.
Not recommended to: If you’re like me and SO over the protagonist who has to rely on a wealthy man to save her. You’ll roll your eyes a bit.
Thank you to the author, Forge Books, and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for my always-honest review.
"Unlike most men who vanished, women rarely got caught. They just wanted a new beginning."
I tried so hard to truly enjoy this book because the premise is good. The world needs more stories about strong women who have escaped abusive situations. Unfortunately, almost as soon as I started reading, I found myself pulling away from the story. The writing...it just wasn't for me. It's chock-full of metaphors, unrealistic dialogue, and has an almost manic quality-it's all over the place, to the point I had to keep circling back to see if I'd missed something.
Beyond that, it took forever for the story to develop...I was bored. Further, I was getting really annoyed hearing about Grayson's navel pain. Go to the doctor already! That storyline had virtually no impact on the story and was just really annoying.
I probably wouldn't recommend this one, which makes me sad.
2.5 stars Available 9.22.20
**My sincere appreciation to NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for my review copy.
2.5 stars (rounded up because it covers domestic violence, an important issue)
I really wanted to love this one! An interesting premise with a missing woman and a new female PI trying to track her down. I struggled with the writing, full of metaphors and a plot that seemed to take forever to develop.
Grayson Sykes is the new PI hired to find a missing woman, the secrets keep piling up in the case and Grayson seems no closer to finding her. Full of intrigue, but I didn’t get invested in the characters or the story.
I see lots of 4- and 5-star reviews for this one, so maybe it just wasn’t my time to read this one.
I received a free ARC of And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall from Macmillan in exchange for an honest review.
"Everyone lies. Everyone leaves something out of the narrative...There were big secrets everywhere"
Los Angeles on the west side. Grayson Sykes was creeped out. She felt she was being shadowed by a black Range Rover. What if "the man" tried to open her car door or break a window then kill her as he promised to do. Gray was always looking over her shoulder.
For two years, she had worked for Rader Consulting as a contractor. Dominick Rader, founder and CEO, had modeled his business "...on the backs of cheaters and scammers...". Gray was assigned her first case as a private investigator. Ian O'Donnell, a cardiologist at UCLA Medical Center hired Rader Consulting to locate his girlfriend, Isabel Lincoln. Defining features included: 5 ft 9 in, butterfly tattoo on left thigh...innocent eyes. Additionally, Ian's Labradoodle, "Kenny G" was missing. A consult with the police: "women disappear all the time...some intentionally".
Why would Izzy leave? Ian claimed they were happy...making wedding plans. "I just want her to come back home...I want her to just...talk to me...explain why she left this time. And why she pulled my dog into all of this".
Grayson Sykes aka Gray, seemed to bumble a little at first. After all, this was her first case as a PI. She had no usable pens to take notes and she forgot to record her conversations with her client, Dr. Ian O'Donnell. Ian "...the man who healed people every day [was] the man who probably always got what he wanted from women...[he claims however] I haven't touched her. I haven't seen her...". Why then, does she need to be found? "Because I want my dog".
Gray's investigation started to peel back layers of mistrust, abuse and neglect. She knew only too well the havoc and trauma of a troubled past. She, herself, had set up an automatic tracker for both a black Range Rover and a red Jaguar, Nevada plates. A rear license plate from "that Range Rover" was captured on the streets of L.A.
The back stories for Isabel Dixon and Grayson Sykes showed past harrowing experiences for both women. Lies, deception and a secret desire to stay missing? Perhaps the necessity to emerge anew from the ashes of one's former life? And where in the world was "Kenny G"?
"And Now She's Gone" by Rachel Howzell Hall was a suspenseful thriller that had many twists and turns. I wanted to love the well developed characters, however, for this reader, the plot lost it's fizzle and became an average read.
Thank you Macmillan-Tor/Forge Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I picked this up because of how much I enjoyed the author’s Elouise Norton series. It ended up being an ok read for purely subjective reasons.
Hall knows how to spin a story & what you get here are 2 that eventually intersect. One details the search for a missing woman while the other informs us how & why the MC ended up in her current situation. Her writing skills are never in doubt. What I found instead was I simply preferred the MC & more procedural style of the previous series.
This one focuses on newbie private investigator Grayson Sykes. Initially she comes across as a bumbling young woman forever searching for lost keys, a pen with ink or a working phone. Thankfully, this settles down as she investigates the disappearance of Isabel Lincoln who has seemingly vanished off the face of the earth. And after meeting the woman’s boyfriend, Grayson has to wonder….was Isabel taken or did she run?
Both story lines are intricate & startling similarities between the 2 women quickly emerge. Along the way we meet many peripheral characters, including those who are part of Gray’s life. The plot is rife with domestic violence, hidden pasts & secret identities. There’s a lot going on here & maybe that was one of the problems for me. Chapters alternate between the hunt for Isabel & Gray’s past & the switching narratives with multiple twists had me scrambling to stay current with both. The ending wraps up both story lines, though one more successfully than the other IMHO. It’s a hair raising dash to the finish for all involved but luckily, Gray has a soft place to fall.
So purely a matter of personal preference. At last count there were about one hundred 4 & 5 star reviews on Goodreads so give those a look & consider me the cranky outlier 🙃 .
Wow, this book was incredible. This was my first read by Rachel Howzell Hall, but I can guarantee that this book will not be my last. If you like Lisa Jewell and old school Ruth Ware novels, Rachel Howzell Hall will exceed your mystery/thriller goals.
Taking place over two timelines, one current and one past, we are introduced to the protagonist, Grayson Sykes. Grayson (or nicknamed Gray) is a private detective, working at elite Rader Consulting, and she is tasked with a new case. This case involves a doctor trying to find his girlfriend Isabel. Isabel vanished without a trace, but his dog is also missing. It seems pretty standard, as Isabel has been known to run off, but as Gray begins to investigate, she notices that this case is far from standard. This cat and mouse thriller deviates between two different storylines, as they come full circle.
O M G. This is probably the most intricate mystery novel that I've ever read. There, I said it. The slow building mystery starts off relatively simple, but as you dive into the story, you'll be completely shocked at how it plays out. I absolutely had no idea where it was going and I was completely stumped. There were intense moments of suspense that were unexpected and I truly was ready to look over my shoulder at times. For someone who reads hundreds of mysteries and thrillers every year, this is not a simple task for an author to do to me. Stumped and enamored, And Now She's Gone is one of my favorite novels of the year. Touching on race, gender, and interpersonal relationships, this book not only will entertain, but show you how society treats women, people of color, and sex. I can't recommend this book enough.
Grayson Sykes, a new PI in LA has been given her first case to investigate. Cardiologist Ian O'Donnell is looking for his missing girlfriend Isabel Lincoln who has disappeared with his dog. As the case goes on, Grayson suspects that Isabel doesn't want to be found and Ian is mostly interested in getting his dog back. That's okay with Grayson as she has left her past behind too, but the more she looks for Isabel to confirm she is alive, the more she finds things are not adding up and the case becomes a lot more complex.
This is a pretty twisty thriller and the outcome was not what I was expecting. An added complication is that Grayson is constantly looking over her shoulder, waiting for her past to catch up with her, notching up the level of suspense. This was a smart, fast paced read that thriller fans should enjoy and I'm hoping there will be a sequel featuring this PI.
With thanks to Macmillan-Tor/Forge and Netgalley for a digital arc to read
9/22/2020: Happy publication day! This book is out and about in the world now, and I could not be happier.
I’m a sucker for women bounty hunters/PIs/detectives because they’re some of the most tenacious, resourceful characters you’ll ever have the pleasure of reading. They will nab your perp, locate your missing man, and possibly wreck and/or find themselves along the way. Stephanie Plum, Charley Davidson, Cat DeLuca… Heck, even The Stalk from Saga and Nancy Drew make the list.
And now, it’s time to welcome Grayson Sykes to their ranks.
And Now She's Gone centres a Black woman PI with chronic pain and a past she’s struggled to leave far, far behind. It begins almost benignly: A good-looking man hires Gray to find the woman who left him. But this isn’t just a goodbye-and-fuck-you—there’s more to Isabel than meets the eye. And it turns out that Gray’s past mirrors Isabel’s present in more ways than she’ll expect.
What can't be ignored about Isabel's story is this: Ian’s a man, and Isabel’s a woman. More than that, Ian’s a white man, and Isabel’s a Black woman. When women of colour face misogyny and abuse, it isn’t just domestic violence—it’s also racialized violence. And this book takes that overlap/distinction head-on.
Rachel Howzell Hall writes sharp, vivid prose; Gray’s tension is so palpable it rolls off her in waves—and really gives me the noir vibes of Juniper Song's LA in Follow Her Home. I devoured this book because Howzell’s language isn’t clichéd. It's laden with offbeat metaphors and quick, dry dialogue. Most of the time, this really works: And Now She's Gone was compulsively readable as hell.
CONCLUSION: This won't be like any thriller you've read before. I started this book because I was mildly curious and I wanted to; somewhere around the halfway mark, I was reading because I had to—and I guarantee you'll be sucked in just the same.
And Gray—a Black woman PI who's gone through shit and come out the other side imperfect and resilient as hell—might just end up one of your new favourite sleuths.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Grayson (Gray) Sykes is a PI who is hired to find her client's missing dog and girlfriend. The trouble is, the missing girlfriend, Isabel Lincoln, is alive and communicating with Gray and she doesn't want to be found. Then there is the investigation itself. The further and further Gray gets into this case, the more complex and messed up it becomes. We also get a glimpse into the past of Gray's own life. We see how she came to this moment in time and how that impacts her abilities in trying to find Isabel.
What I really loved about this book was that it was written exactly for this moment in time and the story stands out from a lot of other books in the mystery/thriller genre that kind of start to sound the same after a while. (I do want to stress that this is not true of all books in the genre, but I think you know what I mean.) I thought Gray's character was phenomenally written and I grew very fond of her. She was smart, tough, complex, yet also vulnerable and had her own adversity to contend with. She had a dry sense of humor (which I always love) and I eagerly flipped the pages during the ups and downs of this investigation. I thought the ending was extremely satisfying as well. Overall, it was a crazy and wild ride, but it always kept me guessing!
What I struggled with were some pretty jarring moments between the current and past tense. You would just get your footing and then you'd be thrown back and have absolutely no idea what was going on or who we were talking about. Once I hit about the 30% mark, I was able to finally make sense of everything going on and I didn't mind it as much. It was also confusing in the beginning keeping everyone straight. Gray has a group of female friends that were all introduced very quickly and while they didn't play a huge role, it was still challenging trying to keep everyone straight. Couple that with some characters having multiple names (it makes sense so don't let this deter you), but when you're starting any new book you are trying to put the pieces together to figure out the narrative and this one was more challenging than others.
Despite this, I still think this is a very strong book and I urge you to give it a try. It might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it definitely was mine and I am hoping for a follow up!
Thank you to Forge Books for the print galley and Netgalley and Rachel Howzell Hall for the egalley I was able to read to provide an honest review.
Although the premise was promising, I couldn't connect with the writing.
I can see from the many great reviews that this is a case of me not having the same thought patterns as the author. I continually felt like I was missing pieces of information and spent too much time back tracking and attempting to piece things together.
I don't do well with stream of conscious narrations and I'm not positive that I'm describing this correctly, but it seemed like that type of book.
I rated three stars while trying to be fair and hope that others will enjoy the book.
Thank you to the publisher Macmillian for my advance electronic copy and to NetGalley for facilitating.
A missing woman with a past as puzzling as the PI hired to find her...sounds like my kind of twisted thriller! Unfortunately, this story didn’t flow smoothly and I wasn’t able to settle in. Not to diminish the author’s talent, but her writing style didn’t do it for me.
The storyline, the twists and the complex plot should have made for a fantastic read. But I agree with other reviewers who labored through the metaphors that became annoying.
Many others enjoyed this one, so I’m chalking it up to my inability to appreciate the author’s work.
I received a free ARC of “And Now She’s Gone” from Macmillan, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.”
My Rating: 3 ⭐️’s Published: September 22nd 2020 by Forge Books Pages: 384
And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall is a new thriller that falls more into the crime fiction genre with a new detective on a case. The story is told in an alternating timeline style with Grayson Sykes in the present on a case to find a missing woman and looking back into the past with Natalie Dixon in an abusive relationship.
Grayson has been handed a new assignment of looking into the disappearance of Isabel Lincoln. Quickly Grayson sees that the man that has hired them to find Isabel may not be all that he tries to seem to be. Before long Grayson is wondering if Isabel simply has a reason to want to not be found which has Grayson looking back into the past rembering Natalie and her relationship with her husband Sean.
And Now She’s Gone was simply one of those books that seemed to never really gain the ‘thrill” side of the book to me. As I was reading the pace seemed incredibly slow and the idea that we quickly see that Isabel may have left by choice sent me to think why then are we still looking? I also thought that the story seemed to spend more time in the past that the present which sort of buried that side of the book to me. Perhaps it was the length or the pacing but in the end I just found that overall I wasn’t invested the way I should be and simply turning the pages to get this one done and off my shelf. 2 1/2 stars.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
Grayson (Gray) Sykes is a private investigator hired to find Isabel Lincoln, the missing girlfriend of a cardiologist. It doesn’t take her long to question whether Isabel wants to be found and if she’s trying to escape her boyfriend. The more progress Gray makes with the case, the more it intersects with her own past and present.
This was one of the more complex stories I’ve read in a long time. Chock full of quirky and sketchy characters, it seems to shift with every new revelation. At the center of it is Isabel who emerges as the enigmatic character of them all, which unleashes Gray’s own disturbing and heartbreaking past. She’s the most interesting of them all who works tirelessly on this her first real case while she recovers from recent emergency surgery. Gray also is grappling with her own identity issues, struggling to not let them overlay into Isabel’s reality.
I really liked this story, a lot, but reading it was made more difficult to get through by the endless bizarre metaphors and outlandish product placements. I’m not offended by them (after all, I’m obsessed with a series that shamelessly drops them) but they began to overpower a challenging mystery and bogged down the story so much that I kept putting the book away. When I decided to just skim over all that “stuff,” I flew through the pages and was highly intrigued.
This needs to be a series and, indeed, if it becomes one, I’ll definitely sign on. I’m hoping, however, the author decides to write more nimbly and eliminate all that product name dropping and ease up on the metaphors. Her characters are brilliantly designed and don’t need them and the bones of her story are iron strong and shouldn’t have to compete with distractions. I do recommend this book but be forewarned that its vernacular will need to be dealt with.
“Boyfriends and husbands, baby daddies and one-night stands were always madly, deeply, truly in love. Bloody love. Crazy love. Love-you-to-death kind of love.”
Last year I read the first book in Rachel Howzell Hall's 'Detective Elouise Norton' series. It had a great sense of place and a brilliant main character. And Now She's Gone shares many of its strengths. Once again Hall brings Los Angeles life and culture to life. From its more bourgeois or hipster-y venues to its neighbourhoods with their different identities. While And Now She's Gone lacks some of Land of Shadows' grit, the narrative does touch upon sensitive topics. Grayson Sykes, who goes by Gray, works at a P.I. firm, founded by an old friend of hers, and she's just been assigned her very first 'big' case (previously she was tracing missing dogs). Ian O'Donnell's girlfriend and his dog have seemingly vanished without a trace. In spite of Ian's seeming respectability, he's white, wealthy, a successful doctor, Gray soon begins to question his relationship to his missing girlfriend. Isabel Lincoln, the missing woman, has an elusive past and her disappearance is anything but a straightforward affair. Interspersed throughout the narrative are fragments from Gray's own traumatic past. Her experiences inform her investigation, and she soon begins to question whether she wants to unite Ian with Isabel. The novel juggles quite a few storylines. At times I did feel more invested in Gray's story than in Isabel's disappearance. Perhaps because the case becomes a rather thorny affair, and there were certain revelations that seemed a bit convenient. Still, I really liked Gray and her character arc. Hall pays attention to the smaller, and often overlooked, moments that make up a P.I's investigation (such as non-functioning pens or dying batteries). Gray's was an admirable and relatable protagonist. I do wish that some of those 'then' scenes were cut, merely because I would have preferred more time with Gray in the 'now'. Gray's circle of friends were entertaining and served to lighten the overall mood. In spite of its serious themes, the story did have a breezy tone (a more modern Janet Evanovich?) and I definitely liked Gray's sense of humour: “The Armed Forces Career was steps away from Panda Express. From broccoli beef lover to proud marine in less than twenty yards.” The romance subplot kind of irritated me. While the sexual tension between these two was clear, and I wanted Gray to be happy, I did found the whole 'you're not ready for a relationship' line to be rather presumptuous (who is he to decide whether Gray is read or not?). While there were some twists that I didn't see coming, I wasn't entirely convinced by the story's resolution. It felt a bit too fantastical. Still, I did find this novel to be entertaining. Hall's descriptions managed to be colourfully amusing: “Las Vegas in the morning was like the hot guy in a dark club who, in the light, had buck teeth, hair plugs, and smelled like a fifties-era bowling. Morning Vegas needed to stay in bed until dusk, until the neon and the glass and full-on commitment to the illusion worked best.” I liked how aware the narrative is of certain tropes (Gone Girl is indeed mentioned). There were quite a few nasty individuals in this novel. Ian was a repulsive guy (more than once he comes out with 'I'm a nice guy' and says racist shit along the lines of 'I don't see colour'). We also have an abusive man who does come out with non-to-credible lines: “We could've ruled the world”. And Now She's Gone would probably make a great summer read. It has compelling protagonist, a fast-paced narrative, and a vividly rendered setting.
This was a wild and twisty read. Seriously, everyone was lying. Like, a lot. Domestic abusers, identity thieves, a trail of dead people and the search for a dog called Kenny G (yep, you read that right). I'm giving no spoilers but I will say that I liked PI Grayson Sykes. She was working her first case and she's also on the run herself (hiding from an abusive ex-husband). This upped the tension in the story and also added an interesting facet to her investigation of where Isabel has gone (or was she disappeared?). The mystery of it all was well done. My favourite thing however is how Howzell Hall describes a place. The atmosphere the characters inhabited was a thing that had colours, sounds, scents and tastes. I don't run into too many authors who call on all the senses in this way so it was a nice feature of reading this story.
This is my second read by Howzell Hall and I'd read another. If Gray Sykes gets another case, I want to read about it.
A clever concept, mostly well-executed. Grayson works for a detective agency, where they find lost loves, ex's ducking their child support, and otherwise missing and hiding people. Her first big case: find the missing GF of a wealthy, hunky, self-important surgeon. As Grayson digs into the case, she finds the doctor is a complete asshole, interested in finding his ex-GF for his ego and to protect his reputation, and she uncovers evidence of abuse. This is the clever concept: Grayson (not her birth name) has fled an abusive relationship herself. So, the dual story is: where has the GF gone, and is she a victim or a gold-digger, coupled with how has Grayson's violent ex- found her, and will Grayson evade him successfully? All the relevant characters are Black, which matters not a bit, other than there are fashion choices that a less colorful culture could not abide. Hall is very into fashion: Grayson notices the nail polish, the hair, the purse, and the designer and style of every clothing item--and shoes--of every person she encounters. The pacing is good, the story builds from simple skip-tracing to murder and six-figure fraud, and the resolution is satisfying, both for Grayson and for her investigation.
QUICK TAKE: if you can past the page length (it is LONG), then you're in for a treat. This new private investigator series is engaging and suspenseful (the diner scene at the end is excellent), and i was totally invested in the story of Grayson, a woman running from a dark past while trying to solve a missing persons case she feels connected to. I liked the specificity (Los Angeles is its own character) and the discussion of domestic violence, particularly towards Black women, was eye-opening and heartbreaking.
4 STARS. Thank you so much to Forge for the gifted copy ❤️ This is probably the most complex thriller I’ve read in a long time! And Now She’s Gone is out TODAY + you’ll definitely want to check this one out 🙌🏼 This book does a fantastic job at hooking you from the very first chapter. I was immediately intrigued by both Isabel (yes, we have the same name + it’s SO COOL) + Gray’s characters. You know Isabel is missing right from the start + Gray is the P.I. that is trying to find her. This book is definitely more of a slow-burn mystery with a hint of thriller, but it was so well done. Rachel Howzell Hall’s writing style was fantastic + even when there wasn’t anything major happening plot-wise, it was still always so much fun to read. Easily my favorite part about this book was that there were so many little plot twists dropped throughout the story. I was truly surprised by many of the twists + I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see which direction the story went in. Although the minor plot twists during the build up were great, I was expecting a lot more from the ending. For this to be such a slow-burn, I was hoping for a more exciting + shocking ending. I felt like over 90% of this book was the slower paced build up, while only a very tiny portion was dedicated to the ending. Other than that, I REALLY enjoyed this book + think this is a must read for thriller lovers. It’s such an immersive + complex story, which makes it the perfect thriller escape. CW: domestic abuse, suicide, animal death, racism, homophobic slurs
I was as excited as a cork ready to burst from a bottle of champagne to read this book, cuz I had read so many great reviews that I was sure I was gonna luv it. *Note: if reading that sentence drives you even the least bit insane, you may want to skip this book, as that is how nearly every thought of the protagonist reads! 🤦♀️
The premise of this thriller touts a tale of complex family ties, extortion, manipulation, and domestic violence, and while it does deliver on its promises, it felt like a never-ending story that went in complete circles to get to its conclusion. Grayson Sykes, a newly-crowned private investigator, finds her first assignment to be a challenge. She must track down a client’s missing girlfriend, Isabel, who seemingly vanished taking the client’s beloved dog, Kenny G, with her. With no sign of kidnapping or foul play, the police have no interest in the matter, and Grayson initially thinks this will be an easy case to crack. The more Grayson learns about Isabel and her boyfriend, the more she's conflicted about how to proceed. Gray knows abuse well, and when all signs begin pointing to a classic case of an abused woman, she realizes she can't betray a fellow victim running from a cruel relationship.
You quickly learn that Grayson is herself running from an abusive relationship, and it affects every aspect of her life. The book jumps around from Grayson’s past to current events in her search for the missing Isabel. Personally, I didn't care for the execution - the storyline seemed to plod along for much of the book, and maybe it was because it wasn't holding my interest very well, but I also found some of it to be very confusing. Too many abrupt character changes, disjointed conversations, and convoluted storylines (the book basically starts in the middle of a story), ultimately left me very uninvested overall.
I did like the twist at the end, but it took so long to get there that I found myself just wanting to get through it and not caring enough about what happened to either woman. I did also appreciate Howzell Hall taking on the story of a female PI who is a domestic abuse survivor. I thought she tackled the issue head on and relayed the what-to-watch-for signs of abuse seamlessly.
Overall, this is a book that will appeal to many readers, and it wasn't awful by any means - it just wasn't for me. What started out as edgy fizzled out to average by the end. 3 stars.
What a page turner that was! Love a good missing person case and this one is a wild ride to say the least. My first book by Rachel Howzell Hall and it was so good. Another author to add to my list. There is so much going on in this story but it doesn’t get confusing or overwhelming at all. For such a long book I was surprised by at how quickly I read it.
Grayson Sykes is a private investigator in LA and has just been given her first case. All she has to do is track down the missing girlfriend of LA doctor Ian O’Donnell and get proof life, and get his dog back. Seems like a simple case right? If only! Isabel Lincoln doesn’t not want to be found, sending Grayson on a wild goose chase. The more Shen looks, the more Grayson discovers that this I not just a missing persons case. There is so much more to it than a woman hiding out. At the same time we learn more about Grayson and her past. I feel that we have not heard the last of her.
Thanks to Forge Books and Netgalley for my advanced copy of this book to read.
If you somehow combined the writing brains of Janet Evanovich and James Patterson, you would get Rachel Howzell-Hall. She keeps the action moving in this story about a rookie PI searching for a missing woman while also running from her own past. But she does it with pitch-perfect wit. The result is a highly entertaining read! Can't wait to see what she does next :)
I've been in a weird reading funk with other things going on in my life and it took me 4 days to finish this book. If you know me, I'm a one-sit binge reader. So many shiny things and my own brain seemed to have plotted against me because I absolutely LOVED this book and am mad I took so damn long to finish it! But I DID - so YAY, SUCCESS!!
Grayson, I'm sending you a crate of pens. I'm never naming my dog Kenny G. And, I want to put on record that while Mrs. Kim, the Korean old lady, may have always cooked Korean food that smelled musky, not ALL Korean food smells like this! Haha - I'm mostly kidding, because there were definitely times I felt like my parents house smelled like a musky ox so I totally understand how even more terrible this can be for people not used to it! All jokes aside.... I really LOVE Grayson. The further I got into this book, the more my heart went out to her. What a strong ass woman. And the case that she's on..... WHAT... THE .... FUCK. I'm 85% in the book and I STILL have no clue what is going on or what direction it's going in but I also am finding Isabel a genius of a woman herself. Cat, meet mouse.... a worthy opponent. GIMME!
The build up that leads to the reveal is brilliant. I will say that I found some of the metaphors used within the writing a bit odd at times... but mostly I found them humorous and took them more as a nod to Grayson's personality, and as such, appreciated the uniqueness of it all. I did notice that the text messaging could be a little hard to follow at times due to the lack of differentiation in font and format most of the time. It did not take away from the enjoyment of the novel however.
I'll be honest, I was hovering between a 3.5 and 4 star review throughout my read but when that ending came and the culmination of everything that was set up throughout the story erupted, I nodded and was like "MMM HMMM..... THAT'S IT! YES!" So yeah, absolutely bumping up to this 5 star ramble of a review. I really need to know what happens next though - WILL THERE BE A SEQUEL? Turn this into a series? How will I ever know if _____ get what ______ ______?! 😉
Thank you NetGalley, Rachel Howzell Hall, and Forge Books for the opportunity to read this book!
I had the opportunity to meet Rachel Howzell Hall over a year ago at the LA Times Festival of Books. I was so excited when I received her ARC copy of And Now She’s Gone! Grayson Sykes finally gets a chance to take on a real case as a private investigator. Isabel Lincoln has been reported missing by her boyfriend. Well, her ex-boyfriend. As she investigates, it is obvious that this is a troubled relationship and her boyfriend is to blame. But is it that simple? Grayson knows first hand that it is never that simple. In fact, her old life is stalking her every move. Can she solve this mystery and protect herself?
Now, THIS is a good thriller! I never knew which way the plot was headed. The plot is wonderfully twisty. Every twist slowly picks away at the facade and exposes the truth. These women are bold, beautiful, smart, and so dangerous. I would not want to cross paths with either one. Actually, I would love to be friends with Grayson, but I would not want to be her enemy.
One thing that made this book more special is how it takes place where I live…Southern California. In fact, one of the scenes takes them up to Idylwild where my family and I are moving to! The references made it all that much more fascinating. Also, no one can go wrong with adding In N’ Out references. NO ONE.
Be prepared this book is gritty, detailed, and contains domestic abuse, violence, and pregnancy loss.
I really recommend this book! I stayed up until 130 am finishing it because I could not put it down. I really can’t wait to read more by this author! I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars. Be sure to pick up this book tomorrow-September 22nd!
(3.5) I had a hard time rating this 1.. I definitely enjoyed the main characters & would totally pick up a second book if this became a series. I wasn’t as interested in the mystery though & I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the audiobook either. The (first person) narrator had a quirky sense of humor & I think reading it may have been funny, but listening just came across as kind of corny. Still overall I looked forward to picking it back up so I settled on a 3.5.