Chloe Cates is Missing by Mandy McHugh, 4 Stars

The disappearance of a young internet celebrity ignites a firestorm of speculation on social media, and to find her a detective will have to extinguish the blaze. 

Chloe Cates is missing. The 13-year-old star of the hit YouTube series, “CC and Me,” has disappeared, and nobody knows where she’s gone — least of all ruthless momager Jennifer Scarborough, who has spent much of her daughter’s young life crafting a child celebrity persona that is finally beginning to pay off. And in Chloe’s absence, the faux-fairytale world that supported that persona begins to fracture, revealing secrets capable of reducing the highly-dysfunctional Scarborough family to rubble. 

Anxious to find her daughter and preserve the life she’s worked so hard to build, Jennifer turns to social media for help, but the hearsay, false claims, and salacious suspicions only multiply. As the search becomes as sensational as Chloe’s series, Missing Persons detective Emilina Stone steps in, only to realize she has a connection to this case herself. Will she be able to stay objective and cut through the rumors to find the truth before it’s too late?

Told from multiple points of view including Jennifer, Emilina, and pages from Chloe’s lost diary, Chloe Cates Is Missing is a suspenseful novel of a child pushed to the brink, and of the troubled family that desperately needs her back. 

Advanced Praise:

“Mandy McHugh delightfully claws away the glitter to reveal the darkness and dysfunction roiling beneath the surface of a seemingly perfect family. Everyone has a secret they’re desperate to hide, everyone is lying, and it’s great fun (can I call murder fun?) to fit the shifting pieces together. A spectacular debut from a promising writer.” – Laura McHugh, award-winning author of What’s Done in Darkness

“It’s a mommy blog gone terribly wrong in this captivating debut from Mandy McHugh. CHLOE CATES IS MISSING has everything I want in a domestic thriller: propulsive storytelling, razor-sharp prose, disturbing behavior, explosive secrets, and a uniquely dysfunctional family. Settle in for this stunner; once you start reading, you won’t be able to stop.” – Megan Collins, author of The Family Plot

“McHugh weaves these stories together seamlessly in an of-the-moment thriller that will leave you guessing what the truth is until the final page. A terrific debut!” – Catherine McKenzie, USA Today bestselling author of I’ll Never Tell and Six Weeks to Live

“From the timely social media relevance, to the constant tension, to the tightly weaved plot, this one doesn’t let go until delivering an ending that will leave your mouth hanging open. With chilling prose and an atmospheric setting, I’m already looking forward to her next.” – Jaime Lynn Hendricks, author of Finding Tessa

“In the way that we constantly check our retweets or shamelessly devour the latest social media scandal, I compulsively devoured Chloe Cates Is Missing. With characters you love to hate, this novel is Drama with a capital D—and is utterly terrifying in its snapshot of our selfie society’s obsession with popularity and perception.” – Tara Laskowski, award-winning author of One Night Gone and The Mother Next Door

My Review:

Chloe Cates is Missing grabbed my attention because of the intriguing plot. Teenage social media influencer goes missing. Our culture is so intrigued by the daily hum drum lives of the few who have figured out how to chronicle everything via social media. And I wish it was just fiction, but so often everyday life (and tragedy) does touch the untouchable and we are all fascinated by that.

McHugh does an amazing job spinning the tale of a girl whose mom started a blog to stay relevant and as the years went on, became obsessed with the blog to the point where she no longer really cared about the welfare of her own child. I normally don’t have deep feelings about characters and it’s been a really long time since I’ve disliked a character as much as I hated Jennifer.

In a lot of ways, the way we share on social media is a generational thing. And many parents don’t hesitate to share every aspect of their family’s (and children’s) lives via social media. I can’t say I’ve never been guilty of it, even my seven-year old will ask me not to post specific things to social media. Chloe Cates Is Missing brings up some important issues surrounding how much of our children’s social media identify should be determined by us instead of them.

I highly recommend Chloe Cates Is Missing to readers of suspense and mystery. The character development is spot on and the story keeps getting better as it progresses. Special thanks to Netgalley and Blackstone Publishing for an advanced e-galley in exchange for my honest review. This one is out January 18, 2022. Pre-order your copy!


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