Book Review: The One I Left Behind

January 28, 2013 book review, literary suspense, murder, NEIBA, thriller 4

Written by: Jennifer McMahon

Published by: William Morrow Books January 2013

Length: 422 pages

Source: Publisher,  NEIBA

From publisher:
The summer of 1985 changed Reggie’s life. Thirteen, awkward, and without a father, she finds herself mixed up with her school’s outcasts-Charlie, the local detective’s son, and Tara, a goth kid who has a mental hold over Reggie and harbors a dark secret. That same summer a serial killer called Neptune begins kidnapping women. He leaves their severed hands on the police department steps and, five days later, displays their bodies around town. Just when Reggie needs her mother Vera-an ex-model with many “boyfriends” and a thirst for gin-the most, Vera’s hand is found on the steps. But after five days, there’s no body and Neptune disappears.

Now a successful architect who left her hometown behind after that horrific summer, Reggie doesn’t trust anyone and lives with few attachments. But when she gets a call from a homeless shelter saying that her mother has been found alive, Reggie must confront the ghosts of her past and find Neptune before he kills again.

My Thoughts:
This book is told in two time frames, the summer of 1985 when the Neptune killer begins abducting and killing women, and 2010 when one of his victims long supposed dead is identified and returned to her family.  We are primarily focused on the life of one Reggie Dufrane, spending her summer with her two closest friends, goth loving Tara and Charlie, whom she secretly longs for.  Reggie lives with her mother Vera, and her Aunt Lorraine in a castle like home her grandfather built for his wife. Vera is a free spirit, Lorraine more settled and keeps a close eye on Reggie.   Reggie doesn’t really seem to see the seedy, less attractive side of her mom, perhaps through the eyes of a child she wouldn’t see Vera’s questionable life style. 

The drama of 1985 is thrilling and frightening, but  nothing compared to the return of Reggie’s mother, and the events that occur after their return to Brighton Falls.  McMahon has woven this tale together, chapter to chapter and left me grasping for answers and my heart racing with what could possibly happen next!! The details of this story were so very well written, the anticipation of what would happen next, the discovery of  the hands, the bodies, everyone wondering who might be next.  The inquisitiveness of the young teens was very believable, and yes more than daring.  Their actions will haunt them for years to come.  When Reggie fled her hometown for college, she left many things unanswered and she likely would have left it that way.  It was harsh and eye opening to return, almost too much for her to handle.  As she searches for Neptune, she realizes there were many dark and secretive people in Vera’s past.  Could they help her find answers?

I’ve given this book a 4 out of 5 stars and this book has reminded me how much I love a good suspense novel. I highly recommend this book, really kept me hanging on and wanting more! I’m looking forward to reading the back list of books Jennifer McMahon has written. You can learn more on her website.


4 Responses to “Book Review: The One I Left Behind”

  1. Jenny

    I had the same reaction you did to another of her books, Dismantled, so I’m really looking forward to this one now!

  2. Becky LeJeune

    I love McMahon’s work! Somehow I’ve not yet read DISMANTLED but I will very soon. They’re all equally suspenseful reads and I definitely recommend her backlist. I kind of wish I could read her again for the very first time!

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