A cascade of melodramatic reversals for a podiatric surgeon, who returns from Afghanistan to find even more trouble waiting at home.
Dr. Mike Scanlon’s wife, art teacher Chloe Voulette, begged him not to leave her and their new daughter, Emily, when his Army Medical Corps reserve unit was called up. Now it’s too late for him to tell Chloe he’s sorry. Tipsy from the vodka she’s been hitting, she accidentally stabs her arm while she’s loading the dishwasher and bleeds out on her kitchen floor. The 10-day emergency leave the Army allows Mike is just long enough for him to make arrangements for Chloe’s funeral, satisfy himself that Emily is in the best of hands with Chloe’s sister, Danielle, and her lawyer husband, Bob Ridgeway, and discover that Emily has no idea who he is and doesn’t like him. Back in Helmand province, Mike endures a bone-jolting series of calamities that send him back stateside, this time for good. But his second homecoming is no happier than his first. The job he’s been promised by his old partner is a far cry from his old job; Emily still cries whenever he picks her up; he realizes that Chloe had been having an affair; and her best friend, fellow teacher Sara Hambera, is murdered before she can tell him anything about who Chloe’s lover might have been. Unfortunately, Mike reacts to all these shocks like a bull in a china shop. In a trice, he’s been arrested for assault, sued by the man he thinks cuckolded him and threatened with the permanent loss of Emily to Danielle and Bob. In the hands of many another novelist, this nightmare would spiral further down to a grim conclusion, but Scottoline (Come Home, 2012, etc.) has a fairy-tale ending in reserve. The author's recent crossover novels have mostly featured imperiled or hard-used heroines like those of Mary Higgins Clark. This time Scottoline varies the pattern by making her heroine a hero.
A surprisingly successful attempt to retool the damsel-in-distress formula.