The Missing Place

The Missing Place

Set against the backdrop of North Dakota’s oil boom, two very different mothers form an uneasy alliance to find their missing sons in this heartrending and suspenseful novel from the Edgar Award–nominated author of Garden of Stones.

The booming North Dakota oil business is spawning “man camps,” shantytowns full of men hired to work on the rigs, in towns without enough housing to accommodate them. In such twilight spaces, it’s easy for a person to vanish. And when two young men in their first year on the job disappear without a trace, only their mothers believe there’s hope of finding them. Despite reassurances that the police are on the case, the two women think the oil company is covering up the disappearances—and maybe something more.

Colleen, used to her decorous life in a wealthy Massachusetts suburb, is determined to find her son. And hard-bitten Shay, from the wrong side of the California tracks, is the only person in town even willing to deal with her—because she’s on the same mission. Overtaxed by worry, exhaustion, and fear, these two unlikely partners question each other’s methods and motivations, but must work together against the town of strangers if they want any chance of finding their lost boys. But what they uncover could destroy them both...

Sure to please fans of Sandra Brown and Gillian Flynn, The Missing Place is a moving chronicle of survival, determination, and powerful bonds forged in the face of adversity.
  • Gallery Books | 
  • 384 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476757827 | 
  • October 2014

Read an Excerpt

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Missing Place includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Sophie Littlefield. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


In the booming oil town of Lawton, North Dakota, two men hired to work on the rigs go missing without a trace, and only their mothers hold out hope of finding them. Shay, a hardened woman from the wrong side of the California tracks, and Colleen, a woman from the wealthy suburbs of Boston, discover the doors in Lawton are closed to them and form an unlikely partnership. In this barren landscape, against all odds, these two women have no choice but to join forces to find their lost sons, and in doing so must learn that each has much to teach the other.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. Describe and discuss how the setting of Lawton, North Dakota, evokes the major themes in Littlefield’s The Missing Place.

2. Compare and contrast the two main characters, Colleen and Shay. Why might the author have created characters who differ from each other in so many ways?

3. Which mother handles the news of her son’s disappearance better at the beginning of the see more

Articles About This Book


Posted on XOXO After Dark

Posted by dianajv

We're so excited to have Sophie Littlefield stop by XOXO and tell us about the research she did for her new book THE MISSING PLACE. Not many people are willing to pick up and move to North Dakota in subzero temperatures with only an outline for a...

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About the Author

Sophie Littlefield
Gigi Pandian

Sophie Littlefield

Sophie Littlefield grew up in rural Missouri and attended college in Indiana. She worked in technology before having children, and was lucky enough to stay home with them while they were growing up. She writes novels for kids and adults, and lives in Northern California. Visit her online at