I picked up Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf from NetGalley a month or so ago and I’ve been really excited to read it. My friend Allison from The Book Wheel rated it a solid 5-stars and I usually agree with her reviews. Missing Pieces just sounded like a mystery I could really get in to. Here’s a blip of the synopsis:
Sarah Quinlan’s husband, Jack, has been haunted for decades by the untimely death of his mother when he was just a teenager, her body found in the cellar of their family farm, the circumstances a mystery. The case rocked the small farm town of Penny Gate, Iowa, where Jack was raised, and for years Jack avoided returning home. But when his beloved aunt Julia is in an accident, hospitalized in a coma, Jack and Sarah are forced to confront the past that they have long evaded. (See the whole synopsis here)
Unfortunately, I didn’t love Missing Pieces at all. From the beginning I was just really irritated with Sarah. When Jack’s first family secret came out she really flipped and I was just wanting to scream at her to settle down and, you know, think rationally for a second. I mean…damn Sarah. There was absolutely zero understanding, or even attempt at understanding, at all. I expected a woman to show at least a little bit of empathy toward her husband of 20 years but no, it was all about her. Enough secrets did eventually come out and I understood Sarah being upset but it felt like she got way too upset way too early and I just couldn’t bring myself to be on her side.
Let’s also just stop and talk about the marriage between Jack and Sarah for a second. Their marriage just did not feel real, at all. The way they spoke to each other, the way she treated him, the way she thought of / spoke about him in the end. It just didn’t feel like a marriage of 20 years. I was just very, “Whatever…” about them as a couple although I liked Jack a lot.
There was also quite a bit of inconsistency in Missing Pieces. A character’s wardrobe changed in the span of two pages (unless a tunic and a sweatshirt are synonymous to some people). Later in the book, Sarah made this announcement about a seemingly big revelation about the murder to a very surprised character, but it wasn’t really a revelation because the Sheriff had already told everyone that same fact in the previous chapter. It just wasn’t a big reveal. I read it and was like, “Ummm…yeah…we all know that already. Remember, Gilmore already told everyone? It’s not really new news.”
As far as the mystery…it wasn’t really all that mysterious. Gudenkauf just tried way too hard to throw readers off the track which made it really obvious who to immediately rule out as a suspect. A lot of authors do that. They try too hard to make some people look suspicious and it’s easy to cross them off the suspect list. Then, there is also usually the character that the author tries too hard to make nice and innocent. I saw the ending coming a million miles away and solved the little riddles pretty quickly. Plus, Sarah is a former investigative journalist!! How could it possibly have taken her that long to recognize the simplest most obvious of clues? Sorry, I don’t buy it.
Overall, the characters were completely 2-dimensional, the mystery was predictable, and Sarah was just overly annoying. If you want to see a positive review, for an obvious difference of opinion, you can read The Book Wheel’s review. Interested in more about this book? Check it out here.