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Book review: What Happened to Nina? by Dervla McTiernan

What Happened to Nina was the fourth book I had read by Dervla McTiernan and it is another page-turner that is both satisfying and highly readable.

I read it under a bit of pressure as Dervla was visiting Ballarat (I love it when authors visit my home town – thank you Dervla!) and I wanted to have read her latest before the event.

As it turned out, I could hardly put What Happened to Nina? down as I felt so invested in what happened to this girl who went missing.

While the novel sounds a bit like a whodunnit, what might usually be the final page was actually revealed quite early in the book as we discovered the dynamic between Nina and her boyfriend, Simon, on the weekend she went missing. However, that did not ruin the mystery in any way, as the reader is left wondering what would happen next.

How would Simon’s parents react to allegations against their son, and how would Nina’s parents cope with the suspicion that their daughter had been killed by her boyfriend?

The suspense is maintained beautifully throughout the novel, but the little details were also appealing.

I loved how Dervla illustrated Simon’s mother and the way she coped with the knowledge that her wealthy husband would eventually leave her for a younger model.

I also liked (and kind of hated) the depiction of the entitled and charming Simon as suspicion closed in on him.

On hearing Dervla talk about the novel, it is clear that she thought long and hard about her characters and how to make them real. All up, What Happened to Nina? was a really enticing read, but also sensitively deals with the fallout from intimate violence – a problem that is front of mind as Australia grapples with a spate of women’s deaths in the past six months.

It is always clear what has been lost – a vibrant woman, a daughter, a sister and so much potential.

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