Rescued from San Francisco Bay with no memory of her former life, Lucie Walker tries to reconnect with her fiance and unearth the dark secrets from her past.
Amnesia, that improbable staple of countless mysteries, here receives a 21st-century makeover as “dissociative fugue”—which means, explains the friendly doctor at San Francisco General, “it was brought on by some kind of emotional trauma.” That’s easy to believe when Lucie’s fiance, Grady Goodall, comes to take her home to Seattle, twitching with anxiety and racked with guilt about the big fight they had right before Lucie disappeared. It quickly becomes clear, as Lucie tries to jog her memories by talking with Grady and the neighbors she once shunned, that her pre-fugue self was an unpleasant control freak. Old Lucie, a high-tech headhunter, latched onto Grady while recruiting him for his product development job at Boeing and ran his life ever after: directing what he ate, how he dressed and how they lived—which meant talking as little as possible about Lucie’s dead parents, her hated Aunt Helen or the three scars on her thigh that look like cigarette burns. Insecure Grady, son of an impoverished Native American fisherman who died when he was 8, was fine with being bossed around, until Lucie got so obsessive about planning their wedding that he lost his temper and provoked a screaming attack that he fears (correctly) set off her dissociative fugue. The bulk of the novel shows New Lucie, way nicer than she was before, agonizing over whether Grady still loves her (which is blindingly obvious to everyone but her) and slowly reconstructing her past with the reluctant help of Aunt Helen. Heavy hinting makes the final revelation unsurprising, though still shocking. Nor is there much unexpected about either Lucie or Grady, though both are agreeable enough to hold readers’ attention through Shortridge’s undemanding fifth novel.
Predictable, but sweet-natured and mildly absorbing.