Six years after the summer girlfriend he’s convinced is the love of his life throws him over to marry someone else, a shocking series of revelations draws a Massachusetts professor back to her.
“Promise me you’ll leave us alone,” Natalie Avery demanded of Jake Fisher after her wedding to surgeon Todd Sanderson. And for six years Jake’s done exactly that. But the news of Todd’s death rekindles his desire to see Natalie again. What could be the harm, now that she’s been widowed by the robbers who shot Todd to death? When he travels to their home in South Carolina, however, he walks into mystery and denial. Todd’s widow isn’t Natalie, but someone named Delia. Natalie’s sister Julie Pottham denies knowing anything about Jake. So do Cookie, the Kraftsboro Bookstore Café owner who served Jake and Natalie all those scones, and Rev. Kelly, who officiated at the wedding. In fact, there’s no record that Natalie and Todd were ever married at all. An anonymous email telling Jake, “You made a promise,” grieves Jake but doesn’t deter him from his search. Neither does a close encounter with a pair of killers who want to know where Natalie is and are certain Jake can tell them. Up till now, Jake’s nightmare is as infernally all-absorbing as Dr. David Beck’s in Tell No One (2001). But the discovery of a clue that begins to unravel the mystery also sends the tale spiraling past the bounds of plausibility, even for a thriller, until Jake’s quest for the truth entangles benevolent conspiracies, hired killers, multiple disappearances, the Mafia and all the people besides Natalie that Jake has held nearest and dearest.
Like Jeffery Deaver, veteran Coben (Stay Close, 2012, etc.) is a magician who’s a lot more fun to watch when you don’t know how he’s fooling you.