September 12, 2016

Still Mine - Amy Stuart


Touchstone, July 19, 2016.

Four Stars



Clare O’Dey has been sent into the small town of Blackmore to find out about the disappearance of a woman named Shayna Fowles – but the most interesting part is that we don’t know who Clare is or why she is looking for Shayna. Both women are around the same age and have a similar appearance, yet they have never met. It is only slowly revealed to us why Clare is in Blackmore and what she is really looking for.


The locals of Blackmore are suspicious of Clare, who poses as a photographer and says she just happened to be passing by. However, her questions about Shayna don’t go unnoticed, especially by the many shady characters who become suspects in Shayna’s disappearance. Everyone has secrets in Blackmore, including Shayna’s ex-husband Jared, her drug dealer Charlie, and even her parents. Because no body has been discovered, it is just as likely Shayna left town on her own, and her friends and family seem surprisingly unconcerned.


Drug use is rampant in Blackmore, and Charlie’s business is booming. When Clare temporarily moves into a trailer on Charlie’s property, she becomes involved with his group of friends and their dangerous lifestyle, drinking with them at the local bar and popping random unmarked pills. Clare struggled with addiction in her past, and she begins spiraling downward once again, all while convincing herself that it’s just part of her investigation. Almost all of the characters are unlikeable, but it’s easy to understand why, considering their damaged lives.


Clare seems to be just as lost and confused as the girl she is searching for, and we can’t really trust anything she says. Clare isn’t the hero, storming into town to save Shayna – in fact, she is equally in danger. The threats to her are enhanced by the shadowy, desolate setting – a foggy, mountainous landscape that inspires mystery with its dark hiding places. There also happens to be a creepy abandoned mine just outside town, and it’s the location of a deadly accident years before that is somehow connected to Shayna’s disappearance.


Still Mine is not really a thriller, and I wish it wasn’t being compared to the recent rash of “Girl” thrillers. It is more of a slow-paced mystery with a focus on Clare as an individual – how she sees the world, and how her past affects her version of events. The gentle pace of the novel belies the danger that surrounds Clare, and while there is no outright violence, there is the constant threat of it gathering like a storm cloud. The ending leaves plenty of room for a sequel, with Clare’s past coming back to haunt her. While there were definitely some unbelievable aspects to the novel, I still look forward to the next book.


I received this novel from Touchstone and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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