YOU DID THIS

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Detective Claire Wolfe returns to her hometown of Newburgh and joins the police department, ostensibly to stay near her aging parents. [8-9] Claire’s true motive concerns her sister Tina’s unsolved murder twelve years ago. [6] Millen gives sensitive visual representations of characters; Claire’s mother appears as an “old woman” whose “Gray streaks had invaded her untamed bush of blonde hair like weeds,” and “shifty eyes, her head wobbling.” [59] As young girls matching Tina’s profile (“fourteen years old…blonde hair and blue eyes [and] studied at Newburgh Middle School” [89]) become victims, [81, 126] and the case expands to a serial killer investigation, [87] Claire becomes a suspect because she accessed Tina’s case file on her first day at work [15, 231] and because the killings resumed immediately after she moved back to Newburgh. [233] Millen’s strength lies in her ability to convey information subtly rather than via reportage; readers become participants and receive moments of cathartic release urging them on. When Claire and a potential witness find themselves cornered by a SWAT team and Claire tries to escape in a car, but the SWAT team’s bullets destroy the vehicle, [298] readers must figure out for themselves what happened to the witness. Like Claire, they must take up the mantra, “Look for what’s missing.” [25] In fact, Claire finds her witness through a common escape technique when the story escapes a writer’s control—the deus ex machina. At the moment Claire decides to commit suicide, her phone rings, and her witness invites her to her home. [275] Yet, when balanced against a holistic assessment of the novel, this improbable circumstance does not register.

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