Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: January 2013
Format: Trade paperback, 422 pgs
I have seen a few books by Jennifer McMahon but just never got around to reading them, thus when HarperCollins gave me the opportunity to review her latest book, The One I Left Behind, I know I wouldn't want to miss it.
Architect Reggie Dufrane may be successful in her works but truth be told, her childhood wasn't at all bed of roses. Raised by her Aunt Lorraine, Reggie's mother isn't always around when she needs her and the worst of all is, she doesn't even know who her father is and Reggie's mother seems content enough to have her life be revolved around with men and drinks.
In 1985, back in Reggie's hometown in Brighton Falls, there was a notorious serial killer known as 'Neptune' and his killing technique is to cut off the female victims' right hand (severed neatly at the wrist) and kept them alive for four days before strangling them, leaving their bodies displayed in public places. There wasn't any clues leading to Neptune and unfortunately, Reggie's mother appeared to be his last victim as there wasn't any similar cases all these twenty five years. Reggie's mother's body was never found and Reggie and her two friends, Tara and Charlie, had went to seedy bars and motels hoping to find her. The three of them are an odd trio back then - Reggie being the quiet girl, Tara has a dark gothic streak in her while Charlie is the shy son of a local detective. As the years flown by and just as the community and the police force think they would never unravel this mystery, Reggie is shocked to learn that her mother has turned up alive in a homeless shelter.
However, Reggie's mother isn't in a position to tell Reggie what had happened as her mind is in a confused state and her days are numbered due to cancer. Reggie fears for her mother's safety and when the horrible truth strike that Neptune has found a new victim, Reggie has to confront the ghosts of her past and unravel her mother's riddles before all is too late.
Gripping and intensely plotted, The One I Left Behind is a great suspense thriller in terms of both characterisation as well as the story development. Through alternating chapters between the Year 1985 and 2010, author Jennifer McMahon tells a frightening tale of a killer's motive and his reason for killing those women he chosen. The story revolves a lot on Reggie's family and Reggie's relationship between Tara and Charlie especially during their teen-aged years so you can say this is very much of a story about friends and family aside from the suspense.
Speaking of suspense, it is so well crafted that I often find myself racing together with Reggie as we tried to unveil the identity of Neptune and to decipher his purpose of killings. And the more I read about Reggie, the more I liked her for her fierce determination and the way she is able to see things and objects beyond when architecture is concerned (you see, I have great respect and admiration for architects since young; and that feelings still persist till present). I couldn't tell you how much I enjoyed reading this book and you can be sure that I would be reading more of Jennifer McMahon's releases.