March 2, 2024

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Book Reviews, And Author Interviews

Dervla McTiernan’s What Happened To Nina Is Sensational

What Happened To Nina By Dervla McTiernan- Summary

Goodreads’ Summary Of What Happened To Nina By Dervla McTiernan (review below):

From the #1 internationally bestselling author of The Murder Rule comes an emotional novel of suspense about two families pitted against each other—one seeking justice in the disappearance of their daughter, the other desperate to clear their son’s name.

Nina and Simon are the perfect couple- young, fun, and deeply in love. Until they leave for a weekend at his family’s cabin in Vermont, and only Simon comes home.


Nobody knows. Simon’s explanation about what happened in their last hours together doesn’t add up. Nina’s parents push the police for answers, and Simon’s parents rush to protect him. They hire expensive lawyers and a PR firm that quickly ramps up a vicious, nothing-is-off-limits media campaign.


Soon, facts are lost in a swirl of accusations and counter-accusations. Everyone chooses a side, and the story goes viral, fueled by armchair investigators and wild conspiracy theories and illustrated with pretty pictures taken from Nina’s social media accounts. Journalists descend on their small Vermont town, followed by a few obsessive “fans.”


Nina’s family is under siege, but they never lose sight of the only thing that really matters — finding their daughter. Out-gunned by Simon’s wealthy, powerful family, Nina’s parents recognize that if playing by the rules won’t get them anywhere, it’s time to break them.

Before I start, I want to be clear that The Murder Rule is one of my favorite recent reads. It was a highly anticipated novel, and I had incredibly high expectations. They were met.

What Happened To Nina By Dervla McTiernan- Review

I could not chunk this into five reasons why readers should read What Happened To Nina. It just doesn’t work that way or lend itself to that structure. But let me say upfront that what you are about to read equates to a dog slobbering all over its owner.

The structure (to me) was very unique and/or rarely done. The plot reveals itself by taking out some of the mystery. I don’t want to say more on that because of spoilers. However, by allowing certain pieces to unfold early on, Dervla McTiernan will enable it to focus less on Nina and more on everyone that surrounds her.

By letting the plot revolve around those closest to Nina, you witness repercussions that begin a domino effect. They continue to build, befalling everyone until the very end of the story. This gives some of the most well-crafted characters I’ve read in a while time to breathe, revealing different parts of their personalities at the right time, including the day-to-day impact.

Additionally, it gives room in the plot for us to hear/see the outer personalities shown to the world, along with their hidden narratives, beliefs, and actions behind closed doors. Moreover, we often know what actions different characters take long before others find out. And it never causes the pacing to slow.

What happened to nina by Dervla McTiernan Summary ReviewThank you to William Morrow and Harper Collins Audio for an advance copy of What Happened to Nina by Dervla McTiernan, releasing on March 26th.


Readers can dive deep into the devastating effect that their children have on them both as a parental unit and individually. Every single parent involved responds to the developments in a very unique manner. It allows insight into their sometimes devastating actions and precautions taken to protect their child.

The story is told from multiple points of view, with many characters. This could have gotten confusing (especially listening to the audiobook), but it never does. The narrators and production are nailed perfectly.

Another aspect Dervla McTiernan explores in What Happened To Nina is the effects of amateur True Crime sleuths, social media, and rumors that run amok. With one family fighting for answers and another fighting to protect their child’s reputation (the main suspect), social media becomes a Public Relations weapon for one family and a nightmare for the other.

The ending? Of course, I’m not going to spoil it, but I must say that it is absolutely perfect.

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