Review of WATCH THE GIRLS by Jennifer Wolfe

WATCH THE GIRLS by Jennifer Wolfe

Grand Central
July 2018

Liv Hendricks had a promising television career when she was a teen actress known as Olivia Hill. She and her difficult and seldom-sober sister played on the popular TV show “The Hills Have PIs.” But when the girls’ younger sister Miranda disappeared, Liv dropped out of the public eye completely. It was only when her financial situation forced her return to television that she found herself playing on a campy Scooby-Doo-esque reality show called “Bullsh?t Hunters.” But their missing sister has continued to haunt her, and self-medicating her past into silence ends up getting her fired.

A late night drunken scheme compels Liv to post on a kickstarter-like campaign site, offering to investigate missing persons cases while recording it in real-time—a real-life private investigation, for all the internet to see. She’s shocked when someone takes her up on the offer, but she can’t exactly say no to $20,000. The backer is one Jonas Kron, a horror director whose disturbing films inspire cult-like worshippers to pilgrimage to the small town of Stone’s Throw. A town where, one after another, beautiful blonde women have gone missing in the surrounding dense forest. Including Jonas’ niece.

Liv doesn’t feel like she’s qualified to do any better where the police have failed, but with a dwindling bank account and no television career, it doesn’t seem that she has much choice. But when her estranged sister Gemma shows up on the scene, the case takes a much more personal turn, and Liv and her family appear to have become the prey.

It’s a fascinating set-up, and while it seems like it may be nothing more than a fun romp, don’t let looks deceive you. This takes dark and unexpected turns, culminating in an ending fit for its own horror movie. Liv is a compelling protagonist with a distinct voice—snarky and vulnerable, tough and persevering—and the book as a whole takes clever swipes at the Hollywood culture that has pervaded our lives. I’m anxious to see where Wolfe takes us next—either with this character or the next. Frankly, I’m willing to follow her anywhere.
Erica Ruth Neubauer