Review: Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

Goodreads|Amazon|Author Website
Release date: February 2, 2016

Publisher: MIRA

Genre: Mystery/Thriller 

Goodreads blurb: 

A woman uncovers earth-shattering secrets about her husband’s family in this chilling page-turner from New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf 

Sarah Quinlan’s husband, Jack, has been haunted for decades by the untimely death of his mother when he was just a teenager, her body found in the cellar of their family farm, the circumstances a mystery. The case rocked the small farm town of Penny Gate, Iowa, where Jack was raised, and for years Jack avoided returning home. But when his beloved aunt Julia is in an accident, hospitalized in a coma, Jack and Sarah are forced to confront the past that they have long evaded. 

Upon arriving in Penny Gate, Sarah and Jack are welcomed by the family Jack left behind all those years ago—barely a trace of the wounds that had once devastated them all. But as facts about Julia’s accident begin to surface, Sarah realizes that nothing about the Quinlans is what it seems. Caught in a flurry of unanswered questions, Sarah dives deep into the puzzling rabbit hole of Jack’s past. But the farther in she climbs, the harder it is for her to get out. And soon she is faced with a deadly truth she may not be prepared for. 


I’ve never read anything by Gudenkauf before but have heard great things about her books. Missing Pieces had a pretty long wait list at my library so I assumed that it would be a great read, after all it’s been out since February and still had a fairly long list. You know what they say about assuming things. Regrettably this one missed the mark completely for me.

The premise was great and I liked the opening prologue. It’s 1985 and Jack’s mother is murdered. It’s clear she knows her attacker so I expected that there would be a small group of suspects to choose from and I was fine with that. What I wasn’t ok with was this group being flat, two dimensional characters that were annoying and frankly, dumb.

Back in the present now Sarah and Jack arrive in Penny Gate when Jack’s aunt Julia has an accident that lands her in the hospital. Upon arrival, Sarah immediately begins to learn that Jack was less than honest about his past. She starts digging into the events surrounding his mothers death and is shocked by what she discovers. I’m not sure how she was so shocked because I had pretty much of all this one figured out early on. 

This was another book with huge potential that just wasn’t well executed. I had a huge disconnect with the characters and as much as the author tried to portray Sarah as a smart woman, she sure came off as stupid. Her marriage to Jack wasn’t believable to me either, they did not act the way you would expect a couple that’s been married for twenty years to act at all. Their twin daughters were often mentioned but why? They were very briefly in the book and had nothing to do with the story whatsoever. The twists were all mediocre and yawn worthy with lackluster secrets that were easily guessed. Give these pieces a miss.

Overall rating: 2/5 (that’s only because Gudenkauf is a good writer and I respect the time she took to write this. Based on the story alone this was a one for me)

26 thoughts on “Review: Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

  1. itsbooktalk says:

    It’s disappointing to completely not connect with a book you thought you’d like. I also tend to think a long wait list at the library indicates a good read but that’s not always the case. Good review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Emma says:

    have only read one book by this author, a few years ago, and wasn’t impressed. However, everyone raves about her and so I thought it was just me and my personal taste. Glad I am not alone. Not a book I had planned on reading but will definitely be missing now.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Allison @ The Book Wheel says:

    I really enjoyed this book but have read every Gudenkauf and went in biased. That said, I know a few people who had this as their first book by her and they weren’t as impressed. Even though you didn’t like this one much, I highly recommend reading one of her others!

    Liked by 1 person

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