By Anne Hetzel
Available now from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt BFYR
Charlie Price was not a perfect boyfriend. At his funeral, his girlfriend finds that more true than ever - when she meets his girlfriend. Aubrey Boroughs was a young American swept off her feet by the rich and worldly Charlie. Lena Whitney was the girl from the same circle of privilege who thought she knew all of his friends and family.
But both girls have one thing in common beyond their boyfriend: they want to track down what happened during Charlie's final days. Both girls have very different motives, however. Lena even thinks he's still alive. I really liked that Aubrey and Lena kept secrets from each other. They turn out to be fairly fast friends, but there isn't a reason to trust someone with your deepest secrets instantly, even if it causes trouble.
CHARLIE, PRESUMED DEAD alternates between Aubrey and Lena, with some passages from Charlie illuminating what he was thinking. I hate to do this, but I have to compare it to GONE GIRL. A person disappeared and presumed dead under suspicious circumstances, manipulating their significant other from beyond the grave. As such, CHARLIE, PRESUMED DEAD does rely on a fairly preposterous plan with one last-minute twist that makes particularly little sense. But the journey to the extremely open ending is fun. (Is a sequel coming? I think it must be.)
I thought the girls had distinct voices and perspectives. My sympathies shifted between them, sometimes empathizing more with one girl than the other. Charlie's passages are an insight into the method to his madness, his strange desire to not just have two girlfriends but also to be a totally different person for each of them. It's fun to watch the girls put together all these pieces that don't quite make sense, and travel the world doing it.
CHARLIE, PRESUMED DEAD is a preposterous and surprising dark thriller. I thought it was a great ride, and I'll definitely be there for a sequel if Anne Hetzel writes one.