Review of Missing Clarissa by Ripley Jones


Missing Clarissa by Ripley Jones

Published by Wednesday Books on March 7, 2023

Thanks to Wednesday Books for the Advance Reader Copy!

Plot Summary for Missing Clarissa by Ripley Jones

In August of 1999, dazzlingly popular cheerleader Clarissa Campbell disappears from a party in the woods outside the rural town of Oreville, Washington and is never seen again. The police question her friends, teachers, and the adults who knew her—who all have something to hide. 

Thanks to Clarissa’s beauty, the mystery captures the attention of the nation. But with no leads and no body, the case soon grows cold. Despite the efforts of internet sleuths and true-crime aficionados, Clarissa is never found—dead or alive.

Over twenty years later, Oreville high-school juniors and best friends Blair and Cameron start a true crime podcast. They are determined to unravel the story of what happened. 

In the process, they uncover a nest of dirty small-town secrets, the sordid truth of Clarissa’s relationship with her charismatic boyfriend, and a high school art teacher turned small-town figurehead who had a very good reason for wanting Clarissa dead. Such a good reason, in fact, that they might have to make him the highlight of their next episode.

Review of Missing Clarissa by Ripley Jones

So, pros and cons for this one. 

I liked the writing and am curious as to who the author is. The copyright page suggests that this is a packaged/work for hire book and that Ripley Jones is a pseudonym.

I really liked the relationship between Blair and Cam and, after I realized that the real author is anonymous, started to imagine Blair as a stand-in for the author. Blair wants to be an author but lacks confidence. 

At first I thought Cam was just eccentric genius, but I began to wonder if she's supoosed to be on teh spectrum. Another reviewer on Goodreads felt that Cam's actions at the end of the book weren't in line with the maturity of a person her age and I agree. It's like Cam is super-smart about things like physics but lacks social skills and an understanding of others' emotions.

I have to say that I do feel like this is a bit similar to Good Girls Guide to Murder. The small town, the cold case, the podcast, the threats against the girl detectives, even the libel lawsuit. The more I read, the more similar it felt to me.  That said, these elements are in a lot of mysteries. 

My other issue is how much time the book's (diverse) characters spent criticizing the obsession our culture has with missing white women and then they do a podcast about a missing white woman. Was there no other crime in their small town they could solve? Maybe not.

My feelings are mixed. And I'm still curious as to who wrote this! I did enjoy aspects of it but there's also a lot that left me unsatisfied.