The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon

June 12, 2013 Whitney Review 1 Comment

The One I Left Behind by  Jennifer McMahonThe One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on January 2nd 2013
Genres: Mystery
Source: Library

Bestselling author Jennifer McMahon is back with a gut-wrenching mystery about an architect whose troubled mother has been found 25 years after being kidnapped-by a killer who is still on the loose.

The summer of 1985 changed Reggie's life. Thirteen, awkward, and without a father, she finds herself mixed up with her school's outcasts-Charlie, the local detective's son, and Tara, a goth kid who has a mental hold over Reggie and harbors a dark secret. That same summer a serial killer called Neptune begins kidnapping women. He leaves their severed hands on the police department steps and, five days later, displays their bodies around town. Just when Reggie needs her mother Vera-an ex-model with many "boyfriends" and a thirst for gin-the most, Vera's hand is found on the steps. But after five days, there's no body and Neptune disappears.
Now a successful architect who left her hometown behind after that horrific summer, Reggie doesn't trust anyone and lives with few attachments. But when she gets a call from a homeless shelter saying that her mother has been found alive, Reggie must confront the ghosts of her past and find Neptune before he kills again.

With her signature style, Jennifer McMahon portrays the dark side of adolescent friendship and introduces characters who haunt the imagination, along with a disturbing web of secrets, betrayals, and murder.

“Put the lotion in the basket.”

Why did I quote Silence of the Lambs?  Because when found, each of Neptune’s deformed women’s right stub had been properly cleaned and clotted.  Like Buffalo Bill he took “care” of his victims.

The One I Left Behind is told in two parts, flashing from 1985 during the summer of Neptune and 2010, when Vera was found.  I think it worked well the end of each flashback left the reader wanting for more.  It reminded me of R.L. Stein’s Goosebump series.  Each chapter would have a cliffhanger ending, only to have  cat walk through the door instead of a giant spider.  Jennifer McMahon did not have a cat hiding behind the door but rather a tangled spider’s web

Due to the flashbacks and Reggie’s unwillingness to return home, we had a bit of a Lifetime movie reunion.  Cutesy but not pukingly so and brings up open wounds (which is usually a sub-plot of a Lifetime movie).  Anyway, this was anything but.  The Neptune tragedy not only struck the town, Brightfalls, Connecticut, (which reminded me of It’s a Wonderful Life ‘s Bedford Falls, from the name down to the Bailey’s dilapidated house) but breaking of the Three Musketeer’s Reggie and her two friends Tara and Charlie, a friendship ending with tragedy on the fourth night of Vera’s disappearance.  This scenario kept me as riveted as the Neptune killings because as Dr, Phil would say, it is a life defining moment.

Overall, it was a good book, The One I Left Behind held my interest but was not a book that I couldn’t wait to go to bed at night and read.  Although, I think it would be the perfect summer read for a mystery lover.



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