The best books about missing children

Why am I passionate about this?

A missing child is every parent’s worst nightmare. Emotionally driven, tense, full of despair and hope, these stories captivate me. When I decided to include a cold case mystery of a toddler’s disappearance in my debut novel, I dove deep into both true crime and fictional novels on the subject. These books represent a range of gripping mysteries about not only finding missing children, but the scrutiny and heartache their mothers face. I hope you find these stories as absorbing, powerful, and suspenseful as I do!


I wrote...

The Three Deaths Of Willa Stannard

By Kate Robards,

Book cover of The Three Deaths Of Willa Stannard

What is my book about?

When journalist Willa Stannard is found dead from an apparent suicide, her sister Sawyer knows it’s not possible. Sawyer plunges into a desperate search for the truth and learns Willa was writing a true crime book about the decades-old disappearance of a toddler in a small lakeside community. She begins to trace her sister’s steps, deep into a community she can’t begin to understand and to a truth that could destroy her as easily as it did Willa.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Then She Was Gone

Kate Robards Why did I love this book?

Fantastically plotted, clever, and gripping, Then She Was Gone pulled me in immediately.

The best part of this novel is the raw, realistic characters with emotional depth. Yes, it’s twisty. But it’s also compellingly well-written in that it draws you into the characters’ heartache and helplessness like few thrillers do. This story is told in multiple points of view and alternates between “now” and “then,” a structure that works well.

By Lisa Jewell,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Then She Was Gone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

From the New York Times bestselling author of Invisible Girl and The Truth About Melody Browne comes a “riveting” (PopSugar) and “acutely observed family drama” (People) that delves into the lingering aftermath of a young girl’s disappearance.

Ellie Mack was the perfect daughter. She was fifteen, the youngest of three. Beloved by her parents, friends, and teachers, and half of a teenaged golden couple. Ellie was days away from an idyllic post-exams summer vacation, with her whole life ahead of her.

And then she was gone.

Now, her mother Laurel Mack is trying to put…


Book cover of The Couple Next Door

Kate Robards Why did I love this book?

The Couple Next Door is an addictive page-turner. It’s clever and creative, and nearly every chapter ends with a cliffhanger that practically requires you to keep reading.

Lapena pulls you into the frenzied search for the missing baby while casting doubt onto nearly every character. The use of multiple points of view ratchets up the tension. Entertaining and fast-paced, this is perfect as a beach read. Bonus points as this is a debut novel!

By Shari Lapena,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Couple Next Door as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Another thrilling domestic suspense novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Not a Happy Family

"The twists come as fast [as] you can turn the pages." -People

"I read this novel at one sitting, absolutely riveted by the storyline. The suspense was beautifully rendered and unrelenting!" -Sue Grafton

It all started at a dinner party. . .

A domestic suspense debut about a young couple and their apparently friendly neighbors-a twisty, rollercoaster ride of lies, betrayal, and the secrets between husbands and wives. . .

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it…


Book cover of All the Dangerous Things

Kate Robards Why did I love this book?

Tense and twisty, All the Dangerous Things is psychological suspense at its finest.

It alternates between the past and present, letting dual mysteries unfold. Both storylines are equally interesting and surprising. I was surprised at nearly every turn, and despite my best efforts, unable to predict how either storyline would unfold.

What I really enjoyed is that it would have been easy to dislike the main character, but by learning her backstory in alternating chapters, I grew more invested in this complicated character as the story went on.

By Stacy Willingham,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked All the Dangerous Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The gripping new atmospheric thriller from the author of the instant New York Times bestseller, A Flicker in the Dark

From the author of New York Times bestseller, A Flicker in the Dark, comes an atmospheric new thriller about one woman's search for the truth

'I devoured this in two evenings and i'm adding Stacy as a go-to author... Thriller fans will adore this read.' Prima

'Pacy and sinister, ALL THE DANGEROUS THINGS has a palpable tension that keeps the pages turning.' Sunday Times and internationally bestselling author, Karin Slaughter

'Brilliant! ... I had to finish this marvelous thriller in…


Book cover of And Then She Was Gone

Kate Robards Why did I love this book?

This book is haunting, and different from other missing child stories in that the child returns home early in the story.

And Then She Was Gone is about the healing journey of the victim and family, with a captivating mystery at its core. It’s intensely emotional, thought-provoking, and deeply believable. The changing points of view are well done, and each character stands on their own.

By Rosalind Noonan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked And Then She Was Gone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Eleven-year-old Lauren O'Neil vanished one sunny afternoon as she walked home from school. Six years later, her parents Rachel and Dan still tirelessly scour their Oregon hometown and beyond, always believing Lauren will be found. Then one day, the call comes.

Lauren has been rescued from a secluded farm mere miles away, and her abductor has confessed. Yet her return is nothing like Rachel imagined. Though the revelations about what Lauren endured are shocking, most heartbreaking of all is to see the bright-eyed, assertive daughter she knew transformed into a wary, polite stranger.

Lauren's first instinct is to flee. For…


Book cover of Remember Mia

Kate Robards Why did I love this book?

Remember Mia is dark, emotional, and twisty. What I liked most about this book is how much the main character riled me up!

She’s an unsympathetic and unreliable narrator, and it propels the story forward. As this story unravelled, I questioned everything: Is the mother’s postpartum psychosis to blame for the missing child? Why didn’t she report the baby missing? Is there even a missing baby in the first place?

I enjoy when a novel makes me question what I thought I knew.

By Alexandra Burt,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Remember Mia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Like Girl on the Train and Gone Girl, Remember Mia is a riveting psychological suspense, exploring what happens when a young mother’s worst nightmare becomes devastatingly real…

First I remember the darkness.
Then I remember the blood.
I don’t know where my daughter is.

Estelle Paradise wakes up in a hospital after being found near dead at the bottom of a ravine with a fragmented memory and a vague sense of loss. Then a terrifying reality sets in: her daughter is missing.

Days earlier, Estelle discovered her baby’s crib empty in their Brooklyn apartment. There was no sign of a…


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Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

By Wendy Lee Hermance,

Book cover of Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

Wendy Lee Hermance Author Of Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Wendy Lee Hermance was heard on National Public Radio (NPR) stations with her Missouri Folklore series in the 1980s. She earned a journalism degree from Stephens College, served as Editor and Features Writer for Midwestern and Southern university and regional publications, then settled into writing real estate contracts. In 2012 she attended University of Sydney, earning a master’s degree by research thesis. Her books include Where I’m Going with this Poem, a memoir in poetry and prose. Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat marks her return to feature writing as collections of narrative non-fiction stories.

Wendy's book list on why Portugal is weird

What is my book about?

Weird Foods of Portugal describes the author's first years trying to make sense of a strange new place and a home there for herself.

Witty, dreamlike, and at times jarring, the book sizzles with social commentary looking back at America and beautiful, finely drawn descriptions of Portugal and its people. Part dark-humor cautionary tale, part travel adventure, ultimately, Hermance's book of narrative non-fiction serves as affirmation for any who wish to make a similar move themselves.

Weird Foods of Portugal: Adventures of an Expat

By Wendy Lee Hermance,

What is this book about?

"Wendy Lee Hermance describes Portugal´s colorful people and places - including taxi drivers and animals - with a poet´s empathy and dark humor. Part travel adventure, part cautionary tale, Weird Foods of Portugal is at it´s heart, affirmation for all who consider making such a move themselves."


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in missing persons, family secrets, and Brooklyn?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about missing persons, family secrets, and Brooklyn.

Missing Persons Explore 271 books about missing persons
Family Secrets Explore 180 books about family secrets
Brooklyn Explore 104 books about Brooklyn