2 Sentence Summary
Mary Kubica’s Local Woman Missing is a gripping domestic thriller that explores the aftermath of multiple disappearances. With well-crafted twists and a fast-paced narrative, the story delves into the secrets and complexities of a community haunted by chilling events from the past.
Summary Read Time: Less than 5 minutes
Actual Book Length: 352
First Published in: 2021
Below is the detailed yet quick Local Woman Missing summary:
The story kicks off 11 years prior with Shelby Tebow sneaking out at night for her secret affairs. A car ominously approaches her, and we later discover that within a span of 10 days, another neighbourhood resident, Meredith Dickey, and her young daughter, Delilah, also vanish.
Fast forward to the present day, a skeletal and scarred Delilah miraculously escapes from a dark basement, where she was held captive along with another boy named Gus. However, Gus is tragically recaptured. Delilah reunites with her father, Josh, and brother, Leo, who struggle to recognize her. The past years are a blur for Delilah as she was just six when she was abducted. Her mother Meredith, it is revealed, tragically took her own life.
Delving into the past, we learn that Shelby’s lifeless body was discovered and her husband, Jason, quickly became the prime suspect. Jason, however, suspects Shelby’s obstetrician, Dr. Feingold, might be involved. In a twist of events, it’s revealed that Jason and Shelby were planning to sue Dr. Feingold over malpractice related to the brain injury of their baby, Grace. Kate and Bea, two neighbours and friends of Meredith and Josh, step up to investigate this tangled web.
Meanwhile, in the present day, Delilah grapples with reintegrating into her family amidst a media frenzy. She reveals the existence of Gus, her fellow captive, to her father. The police soon uncovers the house of horrors where Delilah was held. , but Gus is nowhere to be found, and the captors, Eddie and Martha Cutter, have vanished. Back in the past, Kate and Bea unearth that Meredith, Shelby’s doula, had agreed to testify in the lawsuit against Dr. Feingold.
However, when Shelby’s blood-stained clothes are found in a dumpster at Jason’s workplace, he is promptly arrested. Simultaneously, Meredith had been receiving threatening messages before her disappearance and noticed some unusual behaviour from her son Leo. The plot thickens as we learn that these threats came from a friend. It was Cassandra, who discovered Meredith’s past relationship with her husband, Marty. The issue with Leo, however, turns out to be a bullying incident at his babysitter’s house.
In the present timeline, Josh seeks the help of a hypnotist to unlock any latent memories in Delilah’s mind that may lead them to Gus. In a shocking revelation, it turns out that Gus is a mere figment of Delilah’s imagination, a coping mechanism created by her mind during her years of captivity.
Revisiting the past, it is revealed that Meredith’s body was discovered in a motel shortly after her disappearance. The cause of death was determined to be suicide, and a cryptic note declaring Delilah’s safety was found, warning against searching for her.
The narrative takes an unexpected turn in the present day when Piper Hanaka, a childhood friend of Delilah’s, notices a discrepancy. Delilah used to have a cleft chin, a trait which does not simply disappear over time. A shocking revelation unfolds as it turns out that the girl they believed was Delilah is in fact another missing child, Carly Byrd. The police officer on their case, Carmen, had falsified the DNA results, unable to bear Josh’s disappointment yet again. Carly had been manipulated by the abducting couple into believing she was Delilah, attracted by the infamy of Delilah’s highly-publicized disappearance.
The narrative dives back into the past, where we witness Meredith planning a night out with Josh, Bea, and Kate. After a night of revelry, a drunken Bea, driving Meredith home, accidentally hits Shelby. Meredith wants to confess, but Bea persuades her against it, fearing it would ruin Meredith’s relationship with Josh. They dispose of the body, undressing it to mislead the police into focusing on male suspects.
Back in the present, Carly hastily packs to leave, disappearing abruptly. As the police search the vicinity, they try to inspect Bea and Kate’s garage. It’s the space Bea uses as a music studio but the inspection makes Bea hastily exit. The search reveals a horrifying discovery: the real Delilah, held captive by Bea all these years.
The plot thickens as it’s revealed that Meredith had discovered Bea’s framing of Jason for the murders and had insisted on revealing the truth to the police. Bea, in response, murdered Meredith, staging the scene to look like a suicide. Delilah had witnessed Bea’s assault on her mother, hence her confinement in Bea’s soundproofed attic for over a decade.
Finally, the law catches up with the culprits. The police locate Carly, and Eddie and Martha Cutter are arrested upon their return home. Bea is apprehended a few days later while attempting to procure a fake ID. While Jason Tebow is released from prison, bringing the story to a chilling conclusion.