Still Here, Amy Stuart: A Review
Four solid stars.
I'm a fan of the Still books, so when I saw Amy Stuart's latest, I was thrilled to receive a digital copy and quickly dove in. Clare is a survivor. Starting over after escaping an abusive relationship, Malcolm offers her an opportunity to work as a PI locating missing girls. But when Malcolm goes missing, Clare has to go to Lune Bay, the source of his own torrid past, to try and unravel the mystery surrounding his disappearance. The further she digs into his past, however, she more she realizes his history might be more nefarious than she previously thought, and Clare is thrown into the middle of an elaborate web of intrigue, not knowing who to trust or when danger might come looking for her. I really liked this book. It's difficult not to root for Clare, a woman who's lost so much and fights for everything she has. She's tough and gritty and doesn't back down from a challenge. She finds comraderie in the "broken people," other hurt or lost souls who have also been discarded or overlooked or cast out from their old lives. I found this to be one of her more endearing traits, as she's not this clean-cut, soap box hero. She's not afraid to bend the rules but doesn't bend them for the sake of it, and Stuart did a wonderful job balancing these two things. The mystery plot felt a little familiar, but as Clare untangles the pieces surrounding Malcolm's past, Stuart takes the opportunity to highlight some serious social issues: drug abuse, human trafficking, police corruption. Without giving too much away, I will say that I enjoyed the complex network Stuart creates, and while some might find predictability to the initial premise, the payout is worth it, and I look forward to more adventures with Clare. I will say that sometimes the voices got a bit muddled; certain characters shared the same mannerisms or turns of phrase at times, but overall, the character arcs were solid, the pacing was good, and the plot structure worked really well in the seaside town of Lune Bay. Still Here is a gripping, gritty thriller with teeth and heart. Out in August, you'll want to add this to your TBR if you're a fan of crime, female-led police thrillers, or vacation-centric narratives. Big thanks to Gallery Books and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.