Still See You Everywhere (A Frankie Elkin Novel, 3)

Image of Still See You Everywhere (A Frankie Elkin Novel, 3)
Release Date: 
March 12, 2024
Grand Central Publishing
Reviewed by: 

“An entertaining story for those who love an exotic setting, an interesting mix of characters, and a lonely, tenacious heroine.”

Frankie Elkin is back, doing what she does best: find missing persons. Homeless and unattached, she’s a recovering alcoholic with a knack for asking the right questions at the right time.

Her current quest is one that she takes on with great reluctance. A notorious serial killer, Kaylee Pierson, has asked her to find her long-lost little sister, Leilani. Known as “The Beautiful Butcher,” Kaylee has only a short time left on death row before her execution. With the clock running, Frankie agrees to find the young girl, apparently kidnapped in Hawaii more than a decade ago.

When the trail leads to an isolated private island in the Pacific, Frankie finds herself cut off from all outside contact in the middle of a resort construction project with its own mysterious problems. When dead bodies begin to turn up and she doesn’t know whom to trust, Frankie vows to protect at all costs the most important person in her mission—the victim.

Still See You Everywhere is the third novel in Lisa Gardner’s fine series featuring Frankie Elkin, following Before She Disappeared (2021) and One Step Too Far (2022). She’s also the author of the Detective D.D. Warren series and the FBI Profiler series.

As Gardner explains in her Author’s Note at the end of the novel, she recently took a sabbatical from writing in order to spend time traveling around the world. One of her stops, as it happens, was the island of Palmyra, an atoll an hour’s flight from Hawaii, where she visited a research station run by an organization involved in ecological restoration.

Needless to say, Palmyra served as the model for the atoll of Pomaikai, where Frankie experiences her latest adventure.

It may be argued, in fact, that Pomaikai is a character in its own right. Isolated in the middle of the ocean close to the equator, it’s classified as a coastal rainforest with the dense jungle growth, overpowering humidity, and violent storms one would expect of its climate, along with an unlimited population of crabs, beautiful birds, manta rays, and other assorted fauna.

It may be further argued that, as a character, Pomaikai at times overshadows Frankie herself as the novel’s protagonist. It’s described at various points as a virtual paradise, jaw-droppingly beautiful. At other times, Frankie’s confrontations with giant carnivorous coconut crabs, lashing wind, and blinding rain reveal a darker side that controls much of the action. In all, the atoll’s personality threatens to ghost her out of importance altogether.

Thankfully, Gardner pulls her back to center stage in the last third of the story with an appropriate touch. At one point during a lull in the frantic action as they try to get off the atoll, Frankie has a few moments of introspection where she answers the question, “How do you picture yourself in your mind?” She thinks,

“I had parents once. I loved a man once. And now . . . I’m just a shadow passing through other people’s lives. . . .

“I want to be really, truly, seen. All of me. The lonely child, the grieving lover, the struggling alcoholic. The adult who still feels like an outsider in every room. . . .

“I want someone to know me. At least enough to miss me when I’m gone.”

A nice piece of writing.

Gardner still endures her struggles with plot, however. Kaylee’s escape from death row with the help of a guard is implausible at best, contrived in order to set up The Beautiful Butcher’s equally improbable arrival on Pomaikai to catalyze the author’s protracted run-up to the story’s climax.

The whole business of the missing person, Kaylee’s sister, is resolved quite early in the story, which is rather anti-climatic, given Frankie’s life mission. The rest of the plot is then devoted to the mystery of the sabotage of the construction project, which plays out in a rather crooked and awkward manner. Plot twists? Plot contortions might be a better description.

Just the same, Still See You Everywhere is an entertaining story for those who love an exotic setting, an interesting mix of characters, and a lonely, tenacious heroine.