A woman survives a plane crash only to be stalked through the wilderness by a ruthless killer while her estranged mother investigates the circumstances surrounding her accident.
Thirty-one-year-old Allison Carpenter is en route from Chicago to San Diego when her plane—a single-engine aircraft owned by her fiance, pharmaceutical CEO Ben Gardner—goes down in the Colorado Rockies. Instead of waiting for rescue, Allison scavenges the wreckage for supplies and runs for her life. By the time help arrives, the fuselage is ablaze, convincing authorities that both Ben and Allison are dead. Back in Allison’s hometown of Owl’s Creek, Maine, her mother, Maggie, is devastated by reports of her daughter’s death and shocked to learn of her engagement. Maggie and Allison haven’t spoken since Allison’s father died two years ago, so Maggie, a retired librarian, begins researching her daughter’s recent past to determine what else she missed. The deeper Maggie digs, the more strongly she believes that Allison is still alive—and in danger. Allison and Maggie share the narrative, with past and present mysteries unfolding in tandem courtesy of Maggie’s research and Allison’s flashbacks. Although the setup of Barry’s debut novel is clever and her concluding twist surprises, the plot feels underbaked, and scenes from the point of view of “The Man,” Allison’s nameless, faceless pursuer, prove more tedious than thrilling.
Barry makes some keen observations regarding female identity and personal empowerment, but her characters lack verisimilitude, which undercuts the novel’s drama.