I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Checking her step-sister's mail while she is on vacation, Charlotte comes across a letter and a set of keys from one of her sister's friends that has her very curious. When Charlotte finds out that friend is now dead, she has even more questions. Teaming up with private investigator Max, they start to discover that each thread they pull on only stirs up more questions. A decades old rape case, murder, money, and friendship hold all the clues but will they be able to find all the answers before it is too late?
Not the handsomest man in Seattle---not by a long stretch, she thought. But probably the one most likely to survive if he went into the gladiators' ring to confront the best-looking guy.
Where Have All the Girls Gone is at heart a mystery thriller with Charlotte and Max's building romance and relationship a companion piece. From the moment they meet it's obvious that they have chemistry but their past hurts keep them cautious. Charlotte is freshly off a broken engagement that ended only five days before the wedding and Max recently moved cross country after a divorce and job burnout. Both were fully flushed out characters whose insecurities and shy vulnerability kind of made them adorable. Their instant connection didn't feel too fast as they just seemed to click and as they spent more time together it was apparent their personalities gelled. They're not a hot and cold drama angst couple but cool and calm sexily belonging together partners.
The catalyst for the murder mystery is Charlotte's step-sister Jocelyn investigating rapes and murders that have occurred recently that seem to match her rape in college where the man was never caught. We learn the investment group Jocelyn belongs to and didn't want Charlotte a part of doubles as a cover for her and her friends to find men who abuse their wives and covertly punish them. When Jocelyn's friend Louise is found dead, it's not known if she really did overdose, one of the punished men found out about the group, or if Jocelyn's rapist has discovered that she is hunting him. As Charlotte and Max investigate, the tangled weave starts unraveling with even more threads, a corrupt police department, the investment group might be coming into some money, a serial rapist might have turned murderer, and even more lies, backstabbing, and deceit. Add all this in with multiple povs from secondary characters who have their own very flushed out storylines, background drama with Max and his biological father, and a reappearance from Charlotte's ex-fiancée and you have enough storylines for at least five books.
All the characters and their storylines were interesting on their own but we already had a great kitchen, each added drama started to feel like an extra sink being thrown in. The secondary characters and their storylines were obviously added to keep the reader guessing as to who was guilty of what but they ended up detracting from the true villain/s as their storylines were hidden towards the end; made them feel the least flushed out with their motivations. The ending and big reveals ended up feeling dragged out and full of info dumps, very staggered. We are left with some loose threads in regards to Max's past and with mentions of two other brothers, one coming to work for Max, along with Jocelyn and her friends in the investment club, it looks like this might be the start of a series.
With rape and murder being the center of this mystery thriller it had some darker tones but Max and Charlotte brought a lightness and charm that also gave it some light. Too many plot lines unnecessarily overcomplicated and cluttered the story at times but the danger, mystery, romance, and fully fleshed out secondary characters will keep you locked in, engaged, and entertained.