THE ONE I LEFT BEHIND by Jennifer McMahon
Kirkus Star


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Although the title seems irrelevant to the plot, McMahon scores a solid touchdown in this creepy but engrossing thriller.

Reggie returns to her hometown of Brighton Falls when her aunt Lorraine calls to tell her that Reggie’s mom is in the hospital after spending a couple of years in a homeless shelter. Both Reggie and her mother’s sister are astounded that Vera has surfaced since they, along with the police and the entire town, assumed Vera died years ago after being kidnapped by a serial killer known only as Neptune. The serial killer, so named because of a tendency to always feed the condemned victim a meal of fresh lobster and drawn butter right before death, murdered three young women. All three were found nude and posed in prominent areas of town, but five days prior to each death, Neptune delivered a milk carton holding the victim’s right hand to the police department’s steps. After Vera disappeared, her right hand was also found, but her body never turned up. Young Reggie and her friends Tara and Charlie spent a frantic few days looking for Vera after she vanished but found little evidence of her whereabouts. Now, Reggie has come back only to face her dotty aunt and one-handed mother in their crumbling stone home. Tara, the brittle, oddball friend she hasn’t seen in years, has become a nurse and has been hired by Lorraine to stay with Vera, who has been diagnosed with a deadly cancer. Who was Neptune? Everyone is hoping that Vera can tell, but she’s not talking or at least not making any sense when she does talk. And Brighton Falls’ nightmare seems to be in full swing again, much to Reggie’s horror. If McMahon has one sin where this novel is concerned, it’s that she allows the adult Reggie to occasionally behave like the teenager in one of those horror flicks who ventures down into the basement because she heard a noise.

Readers will find themselves unable to turn the pages fast enough in this perfectly penned thriller.

Pub Date: Jan. 8th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-06-212255-1
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2012


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