Title: The One I Left Behind
Author: Jennifer McMahon
Release Date: January 2, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Reggie has left her hometown behind. After all, the horrors of her past aren’t something she wants to face on her daily basis. Now she’s a successful architect, but she’s still unable to let anyone get close. Then, one day, the past she’s tried so hard to run from comes calling: Reggie’s mother, the last victim of the serial killer called Neptune, the only one whose body was never discovered, is found alive. Now Reggie must return home to care for her dying mother and confront all the ugliness of the past.
Jennifer McMahon’s The One I Left Behind is so many different things in one well-written and engaging package. First, it’s the story of a broken woman named Reggie who is defined by her childhood. In some ways, her life stopped when she was thirteen years old, that summer her mother disappeared. Though Reggie claims to have gotten past everything, the fact that she can barely face the aunt who raised her, the fact that she lies about her past demonstrates that Reggie hasn’t been able to come to terms with her mother’s presumed death. Now that she’s resurfaced, it brings all those difficult, painful memories back in a heady rush.
McMahon does an excellent job balancing the two time periods in The One I Left Behind: Reggie’s present, where she cares for her mother and tries to discover Neptune’s identity, and her past, which unfolds slowly before the reader. Despite the fact that the reader knows for the most part how the story with Reggie’s younger self will end, McMahon still manages to keep the suspense level high. It’s a difficult thing to do, and something that McMahon does very well. As a result, readers will find both storylines in this novel equally gripping.
The search for Neptune is actually a secondary story in The One I Left Behind. This may disappoint fans of McMahon’s looking for a mystery, but they shouldn’t give up on this book. The elements are there, and it’s certainly quite the hunt to discover the serial killer’s true identity; it just so happens that the central point of the story is character-building. The twists and turns are interesting, and while some are predictable, others are quite shocking.
If you’re looking for a well-told and gripping mystery with very well developed characters, you should definitely check out The One I Left Behind. It has good pacing and readers won’t want to put this one down as they try to discover Neptune’s identity. This is a novel that’s sure to please McMahon’s fans, as well as readers new to this author.
Other books by Jennifer McMahon