Lead Review (The Snow Girl)

  • Book: The Snow Girl
  • Location: Brooklyn, Manhattan
  • Author: Javier Castillo

Review Author: tripfiction

Location

Content

The novel opens on November 26th, 1998 at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, a colourful and noisy event. Aaron and Grace Templeton are on the corner of 36th and Broadway, with their three year old daughter, Kiera, and during a moment of inattention, she goes missing amidst the throng. Even the woman dressed up as Mary Poppins, standing close by – and who had just been offering her a balloon and a ‘spoonful of sugar’ – could offer no clue to her disappearance.

The police get involved and so does a rookie journalist – Miren Triggs – based at the Manhattan Press. She is captivated by the case. As the years pass and the police investigation slows to a snail’s pace, she develops in stature and gains her journalism wings and takes on her sleuthing mantle, coupled with extraordinary determination that will crack the mystery.

The parents, meanwhile pull apart and are divorced by the year 2000. The stress of the situation has caused Grace to suffer a miscarriage and all the emotional pressure has taken an incredible toll on them. Aaron struggles to keep up with his job and alcohol looks like a promising solution to his devastation.

Then, marking Keira’s 8th birthday, a video arrives at the couple’s erstwhile home in Dyker Heights, followed by another and another, spread over the next few years, each capturing the moving image of a girl in her home. The parents just know that this is their daughter. Who has been posting the cassettes? Where is the commitment of the police investigators to move things along and find her?

This is as much a story about a missing child as about Miren and the role of the press in such cases. Miren develops into a kickass reporter as the years pass, and commands authority as she delves into the few available clues, examining and re-examining the case until she gets a break. She has an overkill of events in her personal life, which shape her personality as the plot moves forward.

There is a panoply of time lines to keep the reader on their toes, chapters ending on a cliffhanger, which is then picked up a few chapters later. This can be an irritating device but keeps the tension taut. The story can feel a little fractured and long-winded as a result but there is some seriously good plot development, as the case moves along.

The story is set in Manhattan and Brooklyn and offers a sense of the gritty culture of the city as a backdrop. This novel has been made into a Netflix series, where the setting has been transposed to Málaga. It will be interesting to see how the sense of place colours the narrative on TV.

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