The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica © 2014, Harlequin

Mia Dennett was kidnapped, but now she can’t remember anything about her abduction and time in captivity with Collin Thatcher. Detective Gabe Hoffman is determined to trigger Mia’s memory.

In various voices—Mia’s, Collin’s, Hoffman’s, and Mia’s mother—and in different times—‘before’ and ‘after’ Mia’s rescue—the story reveals Mia’s case of Stockholm Syndrome. She ends up in love with (and pregnant by) Collin, who ran away with Mia rather than turn her over to the man who hired him and who might have killed Mia rather than give her up for ransom. The story also reveals Mia’s uncaring father, Judge Dennett, who would have paid the ransom (maybe) for the daughter he despised, which explains Mia’s attraction to the one man who has ever been nice to her, even if his kindness comes on the heels of a kidnapping. Collin is eventually tracked down, and Mia freed, but Hoffman knows the kidnapping kingpin is still out there, so he wants Mia to remember if Collin mentioned who hired him.

Interesting story idea, and very well told. Mia is a sympathetic character, apparently subject to male brutality throughout her life, and you can see how she might respond to affection, even from a captor. Collin has a heart under his dirt bag exterior and really is Mia’s hero, although the story was light on why Collin chose this particular girl’s wellbeing over his own safety and a hefty paycheck. The subplot of Hoffman and Mia’s mother falling for each other was pure filler.

Detective Hoffman’s diligence pays off, and Mia finally remembers, but she can’t tell Hoffman the name of the kingpin. I can usually smell a twist a hundred pages away, but Kubica deftly hid the twist in Good Girl. It was a doozy.

The Good Girl was one the best books I’ve read in a long time. The interplay between Mia and Collin, which was initially brutal, but gradually softened, was believable, and presented a version of Mia that didn’t square with the ending. Yet, the backstory of Mia and her father perfectly squared with the ending. That’s how you play the reader—give them the characters’ motivations up front, then link their motivations to the plot in a surprising, yet, when you think about it, understandable way.

Nice job, Mary Kubica! Good storytelling and welcome to the shelf.

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