Rebecca Podos gives us mystery, self discovery, heart break and love in her debut novel, The Mystery of Hollow Places. Fans of Mosquitoland by David Arnold will want to follow Imogene Scott as she searches for her missing father and absentee mother but finds something else along the way.

From the book flap:

All Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It’s the story of how her parents met: he, a forensic pathologist; she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when she was a baby, a woman who was always possessed of a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as “troubled waters.”

Now Imogene is seventeen, and her father, a famous author of medical mysteries, has struck out in the middle of the night and hasn’t come back. Neither Imogene’s stepmother nor the police know where he could’ve gone, but Imogene is convinced he’s looking for her mother. And she decides it’s up to her to put to use the skills she’s gleaned from a lifetime of reading her father’s books to track down a woman she’s only known in stories in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she’s carried with her for her entire life.

Overall: The Mystery of Hollow Places starts off with a missing person. Imogene’s mystery writing father has suddenly disappeared without a word to Imogene or her stepmother. He left something in Imogene’s room that she is convinced is a clue to why he’s gone. He’s gone searching for Imogene’s mother, who just as mysteriously walked out on the family when Imogene was still a baby. As Imogene points out “searching isn’t missing”. Imogene knows the police and her stepmother won’t take her theory on dad’s disappearance seriously so it’s up to her to find her father and bring him home. But In order to do that, Imogene must search for a mother she knows next to nothing about. And what she find is not what she expected.

Rebecca Podos’s debut novel is a mystery, but there is much more to discover than just the whereabouts of a missing person. Imogene is faced with some truths about her absentee mother, her missing father, her therapist stepmother and herself. Podos lets the story unravel in an unhurried pace that allows for us to get to know the characters beyond the versions of themselves initially presented. There are greater mysteries here than just the whereabouts of Imogene’s father.  Like any good mystery writer Podos gives us plenty of clues along the way, so pay attention.

Judge a Book by its Cover: The cover calls to mind the beach in winter; a barren melancholy landscape which suits this book perfectly.

Kick-Ass Factor: Imogene fancies herself a loner, but the fact is she needs help from her annoyingly perfect best friend, even if she doesn’t want to admit it. Imogene is part Asian, not a size two and by no means a damsel in distress. She is also insecure and defensive.  Imogene Scott is not a saint nor is she a villain. She is definitely a bad ass. Points to Podos for giving us a diverse protagonists who feels real and who we can root for.

He Said/She Said: Imogene spends a lot of time in her own head, but that’s okay because she’s got a great internal monologue going on in there. Here is a list of some of my favorite Imogene truisms:

“A crush is not a contract.” -Truer words were never spoken, Imogene!

It’s just that I’ve been imagining her for so long, and this is the end of imagining and the start of knowing.” -The point of no return can be a scary place.

Because in mysteries, if nothing else you know that no matter how weird or dark or hopeless things get, one way or another it’ll all be right by the end.” I sure hope so.

Open tab/Last call: Rebecca Podos’s debut novel was thrilling, complex and entirely satisfying. You can be sure that when Podos’s next novel comes out it will definitely be on our TBR list. In the meantime, we’re leaving this tab open. Cheers!

The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos,  January 26, 2016, Balzer & Bray/ Harper Teen, 304 pages. Available for pre-order at Inkwood Books.