Member Reviews

Readers will want to put aside a few hours when starting Australian crime writer Dervla McTiernan’s engrossing, taunt new release. The details of this mystery take a back seat to the power of social media and the longstanding effects it can have on true crime cases and those close to the tragedy.

One morning, Nina and Simon, high school sweethearts who come from very different upbringings, decide to go rock climbing. When Simon returns home and Nina doesn’t, all signs point to the boyfriend. And it doesn’t help that his alibi is a little less-than-believable. However, Simon’s parents would do anything to protect their son, hiring a PR firm to flood the internet with fake news about Nina’s parents and stories of Nina and Simon’s “perfect couplehood.” While “What Happened to Nina?” isn’t what one would expect to find in a typical thriller, McTiernan’s character-driven story building and exceptional emotional execution leave readers with more to think about than a conventional novel in the genre.

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DAMN that ending though!
This is not just your basic thriller - this is based on the Gabby Petito story from a few years ago, so the “mystery” of what happened to Nina is laid out pretty early in the book. the book focuses more on the parents of Nina and her boyfriend who is accused of killing her, and the depths both groups of parents will go to protect their kids. McTiernan writes with such conviction for the parents, and each one has a few real gut-wrenching, raw scenes that make you really feel for these characters and the grief and stress the case is putting them through.
if you liked books like <i>Playing Nice </i> or <i>Defending Jacob</i> this one is a great and emotional addition.

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This was another excellent book from Dervla McTiernan. I loved all the different viewpoints - Nina's parents, Andy and Leanne, Simon's parents, Rory and Jamie and Detective Wright. The behavior of both sets of parents was very realistic. It was very suspenseful and had a great ending. Thanks to NetGalley for the digital ARC.

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Nina and Simon are young adults and appear to have a solid relationship. But after they break-up and Nina disappears, questions start to arise about how perfect a couple they actually were.

What Happens to Nina? takes us through Nina's disappearance, the search for her, and the way different people from her life perceive and respond to the circumstances. The story is told from multiple people's perspectives, mainly Nina and Simon's parents and the lead detective investigating the case.

The author did a good job of keeping the feeling of suspense and tension throughout the story, as well as maintaining hope that Nina will be found. It held my attention and kept me turning the pages all the way through.

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Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy. When Nina goes missing you are taken into the families as they cope with the fear and uncertainty. The story is told from the perspective of each of Nina’s parents and the parents of Simon, Nina’s boyfriend and the last person known to have seen her. You also hear from the lead detective, Matthew Wright. It makes you feel just what it could be like for families dealing with the a situation like this and what they are willing to do to protect each other and get to the truth. The suspense is heightened by the constant presence of the press, the trolling on the internet, and the feeling that nothing the police do can be done fast enough. What happened to Nina is a really good read.

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Thank you @williammorrowbooks and @netgalley for this advance copy. True crime enthusiasts - this one is for you! This is a fictional account of a missing girl, but told from the POVs of her parents, her boyfriend’s parents, and the detective. The story unfolds like a true crime documentary and we see how far these parents are willing to go in the name of their children. McTiernan also highlights how social media and online conspiracy theories impact the investigation and the people involved. I really enjoyed this one!

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I was so excited to see this book available to request as I am a huge fan of the author's Cormac Reilly series. This book was such a fun read and the pacing kept you going throughout. Simon and Nina are high school sweethearts who stay together long distance once they go to college. Everything appears to be great, though they appear to come from very different upbringings, until one weekend Simon and Nina go to his family's cabin in Stowe for a small getaway and only Simon returns leaving those around them to ask, what happened to Nina? The families want to know what happens but find themselves at odds with everything going on in the media.

It definitely felt like something we've possibly seen happen in real life and kept the thriller mood going for me. This was such a fun and fast read and will definitely recommend it to others who enjoy thrillers and crime novels!

Thank you NetGalley and William Marrow books for the ARC!

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I will read more by this author. I liked her concise writing style, and I probably would have enjoyed this STORY more if the plot had not seemed to be literally ‘ripped from the headlines’—not only with the facts of the crime but also the involvement of social media. Even so, once I started reading, it was hard to put the book down. Yes, the mystery of what happened to Nina was the catalyst, but a big impact was how easily manipulative social media is in swaying the court of public opinion. Thanks, NetGalley, for the free e-ARC. My opinion is just that—my own opinion!

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Simon was the perfect boyfriend. He dated Nina through high school and now that they are in college he returns on weekends to see her. Lately he has become hard to please and domineering and Nina has the bruises to prove it. On a quick vacation to his family’s cabin she had enough and decided to break up. That was the last that anyone saw of Nina. Simon tells everyone that they broke up and he left her at the cabin, but Nina’s parents and her sister Grace have been unable to reach her. Nina’s mother is sure that Simon knows something and calls in the police. As she becomes more desperate, Simon’s parents take steps to protect him. His father is an influential businessman. Hiring a PR firm, they take to social media to call attention to Nina’s family, spreading lies and suggesting that Nina’s parents, Leanne and Gary, may be to blame. The inn that Leanne runs and Gary’s landscaping business are now receiving bad reviews and contracts are being cancelled. The stress of not knowing Nina’s fate and the reactions of the community takes its’ toll on Leanne, leading to desperate acts.

Dervla McTiernan’s story is tense and emotional. Leanne becomes almost catatonic as she deals with the stress. Simon’s mother is equally desperate to protect her son from harm. Even the realization that Simon is lying and changing his story as th investigation progresses does not change her love for her son. It is ultimately her actions to protect him, however, that lead to the revelation of Nina’s fate. McTiernan’s use of social media as both an asset to the search and a tool to spread confusion and lies was disturbing and shows just how powerful its influence is. This was definitely a story to keep you reading late into the night. I would like to thank NetGalley and William Morrow for providing this book for my review.

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Thank you, NetGalley and William Morrow books. I wanted to read this book as I read something about it being a fictionalized account of the Gabby Petito case. Simon and Nina were together since high school. Simon is rich and Nina is not. Everyone says they have a good relationship. That go hiking and climbing together. They go to different colleges, Simon to Northwestern and Nina stayed in Vermont to go to UVM but they stayed together. Everything is fine, until one weekend they go away together to Simon’s family’s cabin in Stowe and only Simon returns. What happened to Nina? Did she run away? Did she leave Simon? Did Simon leave Nina at the cabin as he says he did? The families are at odds as they want to find out what really happened and are at odds as everything is in the media. Fast paced thriller ripped straight from the headlines.

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This was a great book. I loved every paragraph, every sentence and every word of this masterpiece! I read it in 12 hours, which is a lot for me to do! It had everything and more laid out in the novel! I sure hope There is more to come from this author! I am totally hooked!

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What Happened to Nina? is a well-written, easy to read thriller. It's not exactly a whodunnit, because you basically find out what happened at the beginning of the story, but it's still a good ride, stressful due to all the gaslighting and tricks played. Nina and Simon are a high school couple still together in college, and you learn in the prologue that Simon is abusing Nina. Then she disappears and her family can't find her. The police get involved, and Simon's wealthy parents start a PR campaign to slam Nina's parents, ruining their businesses and reputation, putting their younger daughter at risk, and not helping the police investigation. It's all wrapped up a little too easily, but it's an entertaining read.

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We know right from the jump that something bad happened to Nina, a smart & vivacious college student. She & her boyfriend Simon were spending some time at Simon’s family’s vacation house. Simon made it home, but Nina never did. The rest of the story deals with Nina’s family’s increasing concern for her whereabouts & the search to find her. As Nina’s parents become increasingly desperate for answers, Simon’s parents use their wealth & power to protect him. Will the truth ever come to light?

This was a gripping story that resembles the real-life Gabby Petito case. Beautiful young couple goes on vacation, only the boyfriend returns. The contrast between Nina’s mother, Leanne, & Simon’s mother Jamie is striking. Leanne is frantic with worry & scared for her daughter. She seems almost crazed at times running off halfcocked & disheveled when she’s overwhelmed with an idea & desperate for any kind of resolution. Meanwhile, Jamie usually appears calm, cool, & put together while trying to look concerned just for the sake of appearance. The story also highlights how social media plays a part in the public’s perception during an investigation. Simon’s father hires a PR firm to help bolster his reputation as an innocent victim of circumstance, while at the same time smearing Nina’s family-especially her stepfather.

There were enough twists and turns to keep me guessing. I wasn’t prepared for the really big twist. That one took me by surprise. I really liked this fast paced thriller that’s told from multiple points of view. Mark your calendar for its release on March 26. You won’t want to miss this one! Thank you NetGalley and William Morrow for the digital arc.

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About 4.5 Stars Happily Rounded Up to Five! Exquisite!

OMG, this was by far a totally addictive reading experience that I read straight through in one sitting which derailed my whole day. I have so much to say about this fastidiously written character driven and suspenseful pulse pounding plot that I just couldn't put down. I thought that this was based on a true story until I finished it so it was particularly heart wrenching for me. It's written in the first person mostly, except at times it also shifted out. The strong writing made it so intimate I felt that I was a fly on the wall bearing witness to everything that happened. I remember when I was well into the narrative thinking how could the author, the electrifying Dervla McTiernan, know what these people actually did or said? I knew that on some level that there wouldn't be a way for the people involved who alternate with each chapter, that spoke directly to me throughout this dazzling story had me questioning how the author knew everything that they told me. While thinking it was factually based, my other rationale was to think that the author interviewed them and combined it with research. It just felt so authentically real that I felt that it really happened. What I'm trying to say is that I thought that it was a true crime book and I just couldn't tear myself away to get what I had planned that day done, because I had to know the outcome immediately. There was never a point where I felt I could stop and come back to it later because it was like I was on a run away train with no brakes.

I've read plenty of unputdownable books where I usually can stop reading when I get to the end of a chapter especially when I have things to do. Not so with this one. I knew I had to go out and I just cancelled my plans because this one was irresistible. That's how powerfully written this is and I was totally invested in knowing the outcome because it really got under my skin. It takes a convincing tale for me to think that the whole thing was true. It takes a highly skilled writer to be able to fool me into thinking I'm reading non-fiction based on the mesmerizing writing that this author achieved. I felt all the emotions that these different characters were feeling that my nerves felt raw while reading this and afterwards, as well. I couldn't stop feeling them even when I went to the beginning and saw that what I read was fiction. I can't remember ever being so involved as if I was inside the story in this genre before.

I had gone into this mostly blind but was excited to read it because a friend of mine that also reviews for Net Galley said it was a top pick for this year. Even though you know early on who did what there is still an incredible pull to not put this down until you've finished. Usually a book keeps you immersed and captivated because you don't know who did what. So there is still a palpable tension that keeps you turning the pages unable to pull away. All I can say is that I can't remember a book in this genre that made me actually feel so shaken to my core in eight years. This deserves the full five stars rounded up and more. This author is brand new to me and I think that she has written one other standalone book besides this one that I'm buying and saving for when I have a free day with a cleared schedule. This author is that talented and then some. Exquisitely written & Haunting! Unforgettable! I know that this is one that I will never forget and deserves the highest praise for its genre!

Publication Date: March 26, 2024

Thank you to Net Galley, Dervla McTiernan and William Morrow for generously providing me with my exquisite eARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

#WhatHappenedtoNina #DervlaMcTiernan #WilliamMorrow #NetGalley

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Wow. At first I didn’t think I would enjoy this because in the beginning it seemed to give me true crime vibes, which isn’t my favorite because it’s too close to being real. Boy was I wrong. It was painfully believable, however. This book sunk its teeth into me and didn’t let go.

I am glad we got chapters from everyone’s POV. It really showcased the differing perspectives of the situation. I also was intrigued by the use of the PR firm/social media and enjoyed seeing how it impacted the case.

I do wish we got more time to get to know Nina as a person since the story revolved around her and everyone’s investment in her. They mentioned repeatedly how beautiful and tiny she is but that’s about it.

THE ENDING. No spoilers, of course, but that was the cherry on top.

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Thank you to the publisher for a Netgalley.

Dervla McTiernan, in my opinion, is an underrated mystery writer. Her Cormac Reilly series is so good, though I am impatiently waiting for book 4.

But anyways, DM writes another great book here. Though we know how this mystery goes, we watch two families grapple with the truths they've been dealt. Nina and Simon are "the" couple. But Nina is now missing and Simon, of course, is the number 1 suspect.

We hear from multiple points of view in this story, which was really well done. As t he story unfolds, you begin to question what you would do in this situation. You see yourself in both moms, or dads. And the ending is so, so satisfying.

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I know Dervla McTiernan from her Irish detective series, which I love - so while slightly disappointed that I don't get another installment of the procedural/character-driven mystery, I was definitely up for reading anything else by her and was excited to get my hands on an early copy of this one from Netgalley. This one is more of a domestic thriller of the emotional/psychological variety: Nina and Simon appear to be the perfect young couple, but as they go off to separate colleges Nina starts to notice him being more controlling and manipulative. He convinces her to go off on a hiking trip at his family's vacation home, and only he comes home... While the reader knows from the prologue what happened, the rest of the book is narrated in alternating chapters by their parents and a sibling as they try to figure out what happened to Nina. Nina's parents are worrying and eventually grieving, thinking Simon is to blame; Simon's parents are protective and determined to believe their son could never have done something terrible even while doubts creep in. It explores the emotions involved on all sides, the way that social media and the internet fuel stories like this and also negatively effect the families involved, and the extent that families will go to protect their own/seek what they consider to be justice. With all this it's not a happy book by any means, but it's extremely propulsive (even though you know what happened from the get go!) because of the first-person narration, and it feels perhaps more true to life than your average domestic thriller in illustrating how a situation like this could make people react/behave in ways they'd never expect, and how real life crimes and mysteries don't have tidy endings. The angle on the "it's always the boyfriend/husband" domestic thriller that considers the emotional toll and personal/public fallout for families - on both the victim and perpetrator side - from one of these high-profile missing persons cases reminded me of other great reads like Just Another Missing Person and especially All That Is Mine I Carry with Me with the less procedural, more psychological approach. If you liked those, definitely recommend this one.

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From the moment I picked up What Happened to Nina, I could not put it down. This is a gripping psychological thriller about finding Nina Fraser, an adolescent who goes missing after a week’s vacation with her boyfriend Simon Jordan. The book is told from five perspectives, each of Nina and Simon’s parents and the detective assigned to the case. Despite having so many viewpoints, the story moves seamlessly.

Simon comes from money, a lot of it. We see how money can derail and deflect an investigation in ways I’d never considered. It all makes the Jordans very unlikeable. While Nina’s parents and the police immediately suspect Simon is involved, his parents are able to throw enough money behind him to make Nina’s parents look like the bad guys. As the story goes on, the Frasers’ lives devolve and it is devastating to watch.

While I had a sense of where the story was going and the guilty party is almost always clear, the story had enough twists to keep me wondering exactly how it would all unfold.

Trigger warning for domestic violence, assault, gun violence and overall traumatic content. Highly recommended. Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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This book pissed me off which I'm absolutely sure was the author's intention but... wow.

In this book we are following Simon and Nina, a young couple trying to navigate a long distance college relationship, and things are rocky to say the least. They go away for a week long break to Simon's family vacation home and then only Simon returns at the end of the trip.

Now, we find out exactly what happens to Nina about half way through the book. In fact, the author does not really hide the fact that what happens to Nina is bad nor do they try to hide who is the guilty party. The mystery of Nina is pretty straight forward. The strength that comes from this book is the examination of what happens with everyone else when someone goes missing. What happens to the families? The siblings? The guilty parties? The neighborhood gossip train? There is a lot of commentary in this book on how the police, loved ones, and complete strangers handle a case of a missing person and that was an interesting take on this kind of story.

There are some twists in this that I didn't really see coming. There is a scene with Simon that completely threw me for a loop because it seemed like the author was trying to expose a seedier, darker side to his character but also never elaborated more on it so it felt a bit misplace and odd. The twists at the end were pretty satisfying but while, for the most part, this felt like a very believable mystery/thriller story the ending does require you to suddenly pivot 180 degrees and suspend all your disbelief. I think that I would have liked it more had the ending been handled in a bit of a different way.

Overall, this is a book that will enrage you and is meant to. It blatantly puts in your face all the awful aspects of humanity. It shows you how awful people can be, the things that happen behind closed doors, the ways that the internet can spread misinformation and hatred in the blink of an eye. It exposes the incomprehensible lengths that parents will go to in order to protect their children. It showcases the biases of law enforcement, the power of privilege and ostentatious wealth, and the ways in which the quickest bandwagon people can jump on is the one built on lies.

This book was nothing new or special. It doesn't blow your mind or bring something really new to the table. However, this book paints a story that we have all seen in the news time and time again and has some interesting things to say about that. I think that this is a quick read that will keep people involved, spur some discussions, but ultimately could have used a little polishing to make it a true standout.

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When Nina goes missing, her parents will seek for answers. Her boyfriend, Simon, was the last to see her. Simon’s family is only interested in protecting him.

Loved this one! I loved that there were two perspectives to go with the two sides of the story. This is not a mystery. The reader knows almost from the very beginning what happened to Nina. This is more about the aftermath; the two families reactions and interactions with each other, as well as the investigation itself. Don’t worry though, there’s still much more drama and crime to follow.

“I was stupid, but then, I was a lobster in a pot. The water warmed up so gradually that I didn’t realize I was boiling until it was too late.”

What Happened to Nina comes out 3/26.

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