Malia Kuo

After a year-long hiatus, I’ve found myself drawn once again to the irresistible allure of thrillers. There’s something about the intricate interplay of mystery, suspense and the relentless pursuit of the truth that keeps me glued to the pages until the very end. One of the most popular authors of this genre is Lisa Jewell. Authoring over 30 books, Jewell crafts psychological page-turners that ensnare readers in a web of drama, twists, and intrigue. Setting out on my thrilling literary journey, I selected three of Jewell’s most recent and acclaimed works to reignite my love of reading


Then She Was Gone

In Then She Was Gone, 15-year-old Ellie vanishes without a trace, leaving her mother Laurel haunted by her disappearance for a decade. A silver lining finally appears when Laurel serendipitously meets Floyd, a charming man who seamlessly fills Laurel’s life after her divorce and the loss of her daughter. However, Floyd’s young daughter, Poppy, bears an undeniable and uncanny resemblance to Ellie. The book leads readers on an enthralling journey to unravel the truth behind Ellie’s disappearance, weaving together the unexpected connections between all of the characters. 

The chapters alternate between past and present, allowing readers to delve into both Laurel’s current experiences and the events leading up to Ellie’s disappearance, engaging the audience by asking them to make connections about the timeline for themselves. Additionally, the incorporation of first-person narration in select chapters provided valuable insight into the characters’ motivations and personalities.

Despite my initial captivation, I found myself wishing for more unexpected twists and deeper connections between the characters’ journeys. As the narrative unfolded, certain plot developments felt somewhat predictable, diminishing the impact of the final reveal, but I still found the ending to fit the rest of the story. Nonetheless, the book’s compelling narration kept me eagerly turning pages, unable to tear myself away. For readers who appreciate intricate family-centered mysteries, Then She Was Gone remains a worthwhile recommendation, even if it falls slightly short of delivering a truly unforgettable conclusion.

Rating: 4.5 / 5 

The Night She Disappeared 

The Night She Disappeared details a young couple, Tallulah and Zach, two 19-year-olds with a newborn son, who never return home after a party at the enigmatic mansion known as the Dark Place. Their infant child is left behind under the care of Tallulah’s mother, Kim, who is determined to uncover the truth behind their abrupt and unexplained disappearance. About two years later, Sophie and her husband move into a nearby house. When Sophie discovers a peculiar “Dig here” sign, she begins to unravel the secrets of the mansion and the fate of the missing couple.

The narrative employs a back-and-forth timeline, alternating between Sophie’s present-day perspective and Tallulah’s past experiences. This structural choice builds anticipation as readers await the revelation of the connection between these seemingly disparate characters. Additionally, the allure of the historic family mansion serves as an intriguing backdrop, cleverly woven into the plot by Jewell.

Despite the compelling premise and setting, I found it challenging to connect with the characters on a meaningful level. The lack of emotional attachment meant that my engagement stemmed primarily from the unfolding plot rather than any investment in the characters’ relationships. While relationships play a significant role in this story, I felt they were underdeveloped and failed to evoke a genuine connection.

Nevertheless, the strength of the ending salvaged the reading experience for me. The culmination of the plot was satisfying with meticulously crafted details converging to deliver a compelling conclusion. Particularly noteworthy was the final chapter, which left me pondering the broader implications of the story. Although some parts of the book felt prolonged — and it wasn’t my favorite among the three I read — I ultimately enjoyed its resolution.

Rating: 4 / 5 


None of This is True 

This book quickly became my favorite among the three. None of This is True kicks off with Josie and Alex — independently celebrating their 45th birthday at a restaurant —  who stumble into each other and dub themselves “Birthday Twins.” After coincidentally running into each other again, Josie wants to appear on Alex’s podcast to share her story, coaxing her way into Alex’s life. Alex’s podcast unravels the complexities of Josie’s life and family, which somehow ultimately culminates in tragedy for both women.

The fast-paced nature of the story creates a looming sense of impending tragedy, telling the reader that something dire will occur. Despite this anticipation, the dynamic between the mismatched characters of Josie and Alex keeps the outcome uncertain. My favorite part was the clever interspersion of clippings from the podcast and Nextlifx documentary, “Hi! I’m Your Birthday Twin!” This formatting cleverly foreshadows future events while leaving crucial details unrevealed.

The book, in classic Jewell style, starts with a gripping prologue that adds to the suspense, providing a tantalizing glimpse into what lies ahead. As the story progresses, these initial snippets gradually gain significance, enhancing the overall intrigue. The thought-provoking epilogue further adds to the narrative depth, prompting readers to question their interpretations of the truth. In conclusion, I wholeheartedly recommend this book, particularly for its unique storytelling approach and gripping narrative.

Rating: 5 / 5 


Jewell’s mysteries, centered around family, crime, murder, and relationships, are thought-provoking thrillers that kept me thoroughly entertained and flipping pages. I found myself devouring each of Jewell’s books in a single sitting. Her style makes her books successful; by alternating between past and present, she creates suspense and anticipation for the collision of timelines. My main drawback is that my interest was primarily in the plot itself, rather than in the depth of the characters. Overall, for those looking to delve into psychological thrillers, I highly recommend exploring Jewell’s works.