What She Knew

by Gilly Macmillan


With some hesitancy, I highly recommend. This book isn’t for everyone, it almost wasn’t for me. While I was reading it I was jittery and on the edge of my seat.

Grade A for me means an awesome read that will keep you at the edge of your seat. Grade A+ means it’s one of my all-time favorites, so I don’t give that rating out too much.

I’m not a big mystery guy. I love watching procedurals, but not reading them. And anything with kidnappings freaks me out. But I sampled this book because it was in the Goodreads Deals newsletter, so I thought, why not? I probably won’t like it because it will freak me out. But I couldn’t stop reading, so I bought it. And several days later, here I am.

The emotions portrayed in the book were so real, that was what sucked me in. I felt like I was there in the room with Rachel and Jim trying to solve this case. I obsessively try to figure out mysteries as I read, and that actually took a back burner to whatever Rachel or Jim were currently doing. That’s how good the writing was. And when it seemed like they did have a lead, I was speeding so fast I’m not sure I caught every word. You can’t put it down.

It captured the flurry of confusion and madness that must happen in events like these. Unlike murder mysteries, where I feel subjects can be unusually stoic and calm, you were always on edge because of that. Obviously that added to the intensity, but I think it’s one of the reasons I enjoyed it. Didn’t have time to dwell on any one thing for too long. The police actions were realistic. Smart, and believable. I never once got mad at them for being slightly suspicious of Rachel, because police have to explore all avenues. They did their job competently. When it’s an impossible situation, what more can you do?

All the twists and turns the story took were surprising. The person I suspected was NOT the perpetrator. The reveal of the perpetrator blew me away. One thing I liked with the twists was that you didn’t see them coming, but you did predict it two or three sentences before it was revealed–you discovered them with Rachel (or Jim) as they happened. They evolved naturally, were not obvious, and were not spoon fed.

One thing I admired was how it put you in the shoes of a victim, and showed how mob mentality brings people to snap judgments and can ruin people’s lives. I’ve made snap judgments about people on the news, and this book was very sobering in that aspect. I’ll think twice about that from now on.

Overall, an awesome novel. I think the author is brilliant. This could have been an over the top sensationalist book that took advantage of a horrible subject. But it did it justice. The book is nerve-wracking, intense, and it’s hard not to empathize with the characters. It flies by. Not sure I’d recommend it for everyone, but I don’t have a strong stomach (Game of Thrones tests me with some scenes) and I enjoyed it. Just need a very light read after this.



— Some SPOILER-RIFFIC thoughts —

  • The title: I would argue that it refers to what Rachel didn’t know. If she had known more about these people in her and her son’s lives, she may have been able to piece this mystery together more quickly. It’s not her thought she didn’t–there’s no way she could have known these things. Sometimes we think we know people, but do we really? Are there things we overlook? It’s a thought-provoking question.
  • Did the police drop the ball with the real abductor? I never suspected that person. Maybe the police should have done more research, but don’t you think that maybe the person’s employer should have done more background as well? There’s a lot of ways to assign blame.
  • I had no idea what the eventual outcome would be, and I found the ending realistic. I wanted more answers, but it worked. I’m content.
  • Only complaint I had was with the reveal of Zhang’s backstory. The only “reveal” that felt a bit contrived. Minor complaint compared to the brilliance of the rest of the story.

Confused by my grading scale, click here to find out how the grades relate to star-ratings you’re more used to seeing.