Member Reviews

This was a very basic book that will appeal to Dateline and true crime fanatics. The characters are very cliche and one-dimensional, with a blue collar family of a missing girl pitted against a wealthy family who believes their son is a golden boy.
It was fast-paced but lacked nuance or depth.

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3.5 stars, not rounded up
“You’ve probably seen my picture online, and heard my story, and if you have I guess you’ve already judged me.”

What Happened to Nina? Is a fast-paced thriller about a missing girl. The strong opening immediately captured my attention. What makes this stand out from other thrillers is that the story is told through the alternating eyes, thoughts, and words of family members – both the missing girl’s parents and sister and the accused boyfriend’s wealthy parents. The book makes you wonder what you would do for your child in a crisis. (Hint, crimes never go away even when you try to cover them up. And the obvious, murder changes lives permanently.)

I liked the calm, reassuring nature of Detective Matthew. I would have like to know more about him and the investigation side of the missing teen. McTiernan did an excellent job of portraying what devastation the media circus can cause in a missing person’s case.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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[4.25 stars]

Australian author Dervla McTeirnan is becoming a new go-to crime fiction author for me (I also really liked her last book, The Murder Rule). What Happened to Nina was one of my Spring Break reads this year and it was perfect for distracted reading time (i.e. a busy pool or beach). Simon and Nina are a golden couple in a small town in Vermont who have been together since high school (they're now college age). When they spend a week alone at Simon's parents' vacation house in Stowe, only Simon returns. And, his story isn't adding up. This story is structured in a way that I love: the reader actually knows what happened to Nina pretty early on and readers get to watch the police and Nina's and Simon's families try to figure it out. This is also a story of class and privilege and how they influence the various characters' responses to Nina's disappearance. It's also about how the media can be manipulated when a crime is getting a lot of attention and the damage this can do to those involved. Recommended for those who enjoy well done crime fiction...and, maybe thriller readers who are frustrated with outlandish popcorn thrillers.

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This story captured my attention from the start, and absolutely refused to let it go. This book features quite a few perspectives, and yet, I never felt confused as to whose POV we were on or what was happening. The story was detailed, but still clear and concise. And the pacing was great - never dragging or lagging

🎧 If you get a chance, listen to the audio - It features a huge cast of narrators and I think, that alone, really helps to keep each of the character and their POV wholly unique and easy to follow.

Read if you like:
detective stories
true crime
great audiobooks
bingeable books

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Big fan of Dervla! This was a quick read, with great character development and a good ending. Some sad lessons about the power of social media!

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Dervla McTiernan's "What Happened to Nina?" is an exquisite exploration of love, loss, and the intricate threads that bind families together. From the very first page, McTiernan’s prose envelops readers in a world where emotions run deep and secrets lie just beneath the surface.

Nina Fraser’s disappearance while on vacation with her husband Simon sets the stage for a gripping narrative that unfolds through multiple perspectives. McTiernan masterfully weaves together the voices of Nina’s parents, Simon’s mother, and Detective Matthew Wright. Each character brings their own vulnerabilities, fears, and hopes to the forefront, creating a tapestry of human connections.

The novel transcends traditional thriller conventions by focusing on the “why” rather than the “who.” It’s a poignant meditation on grief, parental love, and the choices we make when faced with unimaginable circumstances. McTiernan’s exploration of the human psyche is both haunting and deeply moving. "What Happened to Nina?" leaves an indelible mark on the reader’s heart, a testament to the power of storytelling and the resilience of the human spirit.

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The cover of this one made me ignore it the first few times it crossed my path, but after hearing some rave reviews from trusted readers, I decided to give it a try -- and I'm so glad I did! While we know what happened to Nina (at least vaguely at the beginning and then with more detail halfway through), this was surprisingly propulsive. It very much read like a true crime podcast and I couldn't stop reading it. The focus on the differing emotions and motivations portrayed by the sets of parents, as well as a peek into Simon's thoughts, was fascinating, and kept me guessing more than I thought it would. While I haven't found typical thrillers (i.e. Ruth Ware, Stacy Willingham, etc.) to be very satisfying, literary feminist thrillers/mysteries are really working for me (think Nightwatching and The Quiet Tenant). I highly recommend.

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What Happened to Nina read like a true crime podcast. It captured me from the very start and I really enjoyed it!

Nina and Simon have dated for years - through high school and into college. When they go away for the weekend, only Simon returns. Nina's parents are confused and don't understand why they haven't heard from Nina. As they investigate the situation, Nina and Simon's family find themselves at war with each other as they each defend thier own child.

While I really felt immersed in the mystery at the heart of the story, I did find the conclusion somewhat of a letdown. I was kind of expecting more, so that's why it didn't earn a full 5-stars from me. Overall, a really great book though, and I'll definitely be reading future novels by McTiernan.

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What Happened to Nina is every parent’s worst nightmare. This story is told with grace. The emotion, panic and urgency felt palpable. As the story escalates, I wondered how the author would end and WOW. Brillance.
I highly recommend not reading reviews and jump in blind.

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Riveting and thrilling domestic suspense.

Simon and Nina had been a couple since they were 16 years old. Once both went off to college, their relationship started to change. In an effort to regain their close bond, they take a week-long trip to do some climbing and hiking at Simon's family cabin in Vermont. Only Simon returns home. So, what happened to Nina? The police get involved and the investigation explodes as both families close ranks and the news goes viral on social media. Speculation, rumor, and innuendo create a disturbing subtext that makes the truth even harder to find. Nina's family wants answers and Simon's parents stonewall every attempt at discovery.

The narrative shifts in point of view primarily between each parent -- and all want only one thing. Simon's parents want him not to be responsible for whatever happened to Nina and her parents want her to come home.

I listened to the audiobook while also reading along in the e-book ARC provided by the publisher. The production was excellent with a very talented group of narrators who gave so much depth to the characters and the story.

I could not bear to put this down as it kept me totally on edge waiting to find out what would happen next. Also, I could not help but note the disturbing similarities between this plot and the true crime events surrounding the case of Gabby Petito who was murdered by her fiancé.

This is my penultimate favorite book so far this year and I fear that everyone I know will suffer my book stalking. I definitely give this 4.5 stars. It was emotionally gripping and I am sure I will be thinking about it for some time.

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Murder/Mystery books are always a good quick read for me but this one did not do it. The story is very similar to a recent high profile missing persons/murder case and I know many other readers make the connection. The problem with this is the stories are TOO similar, whether or not that was planned or considered, I am not sure, but it made for a not so interesting read.- even with the few deviations from the similar case The saving grace of this book is it's easy to feel for Nina's family and what it would be like to go through this as a family. On top of that, the author does a good job of making you feel for the other family as well, which is a hard thing to do in a murder/mystery. Thanks for the opportunity to read!

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QUICK TAKE: a fictional retelling of the Gabby Petito murder, but told from the POV of the parents impacted and the lengths one is willing to go in order to protect their children. I found this domestic suspense extremely propulsive and unputdownable, and read the entire book in one sitting. It’s juicy and soapy and twisty, and while I didn’t love how McTiernan executed a first-act twist, I ultimately really enjoyed this one a lot and highly recommend it if you’re looking for a fast-paced slump-busting read...

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This one is for all the true crime lovers out there!

Yes, the plot is predictable but the ending was unexpected. I loved how the author told the story and made it interesting. Told via multiple POV’s of both Nina’s and Simon’s family members. It was fast paced and an easy read. I couldn’t put it down!

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I love to indulge in true crime as much as the next person, but the depth of each character in What Happened to Nina? made me want to stop altogether. I felt like I got to know these characters so well, that I felt their pain and their anguish. The destruction of two families seemed all too real. Tangible. Like it was happening to a family friend, or even my own family. I appreciate that this thriller made us take a look at ourselves and how we chew up and spit out these true crime documents. How there are videos, comments, theories, suspicions spread around rapidly online. How we all consume these stories and sometimes empathize, but always go on about our days, with little thought to how our consumption affects the families involved. I know this book was a work of fiction, but it really made me look at the situation, and myself, differently. It was probably one of the better thrillers I’ve ever read when it came to character building. I need more from this author.

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This was a brilliantly written mystery.
When Nina and her boyfriend go away for the weekend, and Nina doesn't return, her parents refuse to give up searching for her.
The investigation was suspenseful and absolutely engrossing, loved this one to the very end!

Thank you to William Morrow and NetGalley for an ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest opinion.

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Many thanks to William Morrow and NetGalley for a review copy in exchange for my honest opinion. “Nina and Simon are the perfect couple. Young, fun and deeply in love. Until they leave for a weekend at his family’s cabin in Vermont, and only Simon comes home.”
That’s a great premise and I really enjoyed this book, reading the first 40% and listening to the rest. The reader learns prior to the middle of the book what happened to Nina, but the story continued to be engaging and kept me guessing how it was going to finish.
This cover is not the best - I don’t think it’s engaging and it doesn’t really represent the character of Nina. I do think the book is worth reading, but I wish the cover better matched the content - we need someone hiking or rock climbing!

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Nina Fraser and Simon Jordan have been a picture perfect couple since they were sixteen. After a weekend of hiking at the Jordan’s vacation home, Simon returns home but Nina does not. Simon said that they broke up and Nina was calling a friend to pick her up. Where is Nina? Nina’s parents are frantic and although Simon was apparently the last person to see Nina, he seems genuinely upset that she hasn’t returned home. The police are contacted and a search party is organized. The Fraser’s want Simon charged but without a body foul play can not be established. The Jordans take steps to protect their son who couldn’t possibly hurt Nina.

This novel is told from various viewpoints beginning with Nina and then with the parents and police detective and there are surprising twists and turns. I was puled immediately into What Happened to Nina and the ending was a surprise. If you enjoy mysteries and suspense thrillers give this book a try.

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I listened to the audiobook version of What Happened to Nina? not realizing I had an advanced reader copy. I was drawn in from the first sentence. Each viewpoint had a different narrator which made it easier to follow along.

This book isn’t so much of a whodunnit as to how the situation affected the different characters around the missing Nina, who was the narrator of the prologue. We see how her family (mother, stepfather and sister), the suspect’s parents, and the police detective try to figure out why Nina may have disappeared and who could be responsible.

The tension built up as the book went on. As the case gained media attention, we see how it affects those surrounding Nina. The intensity of it left me feeling shaken as the brutality of armchair detectives tear apart those on both sides. It accurately reflected how social media and its trolls can spiral and tear apart people’s lives.

There were several plot twists I did not see coming. Finishing the book, I wanted to read/listen to it all over again.

Trigger warning: discussion of physical abuse by a partner

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I’m giving a heads-up to readers who plan to start this book:

-Order your fake nails online because you won’t have healthy nails left after finishing this riveting and heart-throbbing thriller.

-Find great excuses to skip your job, your social commitments, even postpone binge-watching new streaming series; play sick for your husband, kids who demand you cook, clean, do laundry. Once you start this book, you won’t want to deal with anything from the outside world and you’ll go with the flow.

-Find someplace to read where underage adults can't hear you because you will have an urge to curse loudly every time one of the Jordan family members appears in the chapters and presents their narratives.

-Find a firm, strong, stable couch to sit on because you may keep jumping on it as the pressure builds and hits the top. You don’t want to fall back down to the floor at each triggering scene you’re reading.

-Don’t bring any food with you. This book may create stress eating, and without realizing it, you may find yourself already covered from head to toe with junk food packages, turning yourself into a walking trash bag!

-Feel free to work on your best villainous laugh because when you read the conclusion, you may also need to perform it!

I cannot give this book less than five stars! In my opinion, nobody except psychological thriller or true crime fans, riveting mystery addicts, can do that! This book is absolutely fantastic but also disturbing, mind-bending, dark, perfectly developed, and executed!

It opens with the POV of Nina Frazier, a 20-year-old, sweet girl next door but also tough, hardworking, a grade A student, a perfect daughter, and an accomplished climber, dating her childhood boyfriend Simon since she was sixteen. They’re from the same town, but their families are polar opposites. The Jordan family is wealthy, prestigious, focused on appearances, while the Frasers are from the middle class, running their inn: a family business they all work together to make ends meet. Nina’s mother, Leanne, comes from a broken family, she's tough, resilient, a hard worker, while Simon’s mother, Jamie, is a trophy wife conducting a side business by selling her designer clothes online; they couldn't be much different, pretending to be civil with each other for their children’s sake.

In the beginning of the story from Nina’s narrative, we understand that after Nina and Simon, a picture-perfect couple, started their long-distance relationship, Simon becomes controlling, suffocating Nina, monitoring her every move, even becoming physically harmful. When they plan to spend time alone together at a new house Simon’s family bought near Stowe, Nina is forced to cancel her shift at her mother’s inn, which creates an argument between mother and daughter.

Nina still questions their relationship, and during their hike, an incident occurs that pushes her to the decision she’s been postponing for so long. She is adamant to break up with him when they are having dinner. Unfortunately, Nina’s narration ends here.

Afterwards, we find out that Simon returns back to his family home alone, telling people that he and Nina broke up because she was cheating on him and he left her in their house.

But there is something missing from the story. In any condition, Nina might have called her parents to drive her home. She never disappears into thin air without informing them. Her jacket, eyewater, and a few belongings are found at the Stowe home, but the security cameras show no indication that she left the house, and her phone has been inactive since Friday night.

What happened to Nina? Did she run away from her abusive boyfriend or her strict mother who forces her to spend her entire spare time working in the inn? Or did something happen to her?

We read from both family members’ POVs, including Jamie and Rory Jordan, who will go to great lengths to prevent their son from going to jail, and the Fraser family: Leanne, Andy, their fifteen-year-old daughter Grace, who will do anything in their power to find out what happened to Nina.

Police officer Matthew and his young colleague Sarah Jane are also adamant about finding out the truth, and the cyberbullying, troll attacks are also added into the complex equation as the narratives keep changing to address the culprit by manipulating the haters as the pressure builds until things get escalated. Could justice be served before anyone out there takes matters into their own hands?

Some books leave traces in your soul, and this one is actually one of them. I highly recommend it to anyone addicted to great thrillers!

Many thanks to NetGalley and William Morrow for sharing this unputdownable psychological thriller’s digital reviewer copy with me in exchange for my honest thoughts.

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I absolutely loved this book. A college girl is missing after spending the week with her boyfriend. It follows the investigation and tells the story of the girls parents and the boyfriends family. It also shows what a family with money and influence can do to destroy the other family. This was a great mystery.

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