The night of the 30th of July of 1994, the first theater festival takes place in the quiet town of Orphea, the Hamptons. But strangely, the mayor is late… Meanwhile, Samuel Paladin desperately looks for his wife, until he finally finds her dead body next to the mayor’s house. Inside, all the family has been murdered. Jesse Rosenberg and Derek Scott are the two young New York cops who solve the Orphea murder case. However, in 2014, journalist Stephanie Mailer confronts them and tells them they were wrong all along. Stephanie claims to have proof. A couple of days later, she vanishes without a trace…
First of all, I want to say that I have read this book in Spanish, and it’s not available in English yet. The author wrote it originally in French, so I had to read the translation. It was a buddy read with a friend and we had so much fun reading it! I recommend doing it this way because you’re able to share theories and laugh at the cringey scenes (believe me, there are many). Years ago, I read The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair, a massive book that I finished in just 2 days. While this one was equally long, it took me about a week. It wasn’t as addictive as that one, but it was a fun book overall and I’m glad I read it.
I think Joel Dicker’s writing is similar to Camilla Lackberg’s. I always find their characters cliché and kind of unrealistic, but they both have a way to keep you hooked from the beginning. Joel Dicker’s strength is at crafting the actual mystery, as you never know who’s the villain until the very end. Plus, the last 25% of this novel was super twisty, so it made up for the slow-ish middle. And I loved the idea behind the crime. I would have never guessed it.
If you want a novel full of dialogue, dozens of suspects and a strong female protagonist, this book could be for you Keep in mind it’s about 650 pages. I liked Anna, the Orphea detective, and found her to be likable and fun. Jesse and Scott were okay, but Jesse was too melodramatic for my taste. If you prefer more serious reads with a focus on strong writing and descriptions, then I’m afraid this one is not for you.
Overall, The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer is a super entertaining mystery novel that shouldn’t be taken too seriously. It was the perfect summer escapism and I will definitely read Joel Dicker’s next novel.