Author: Lisa Unger
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy for Book Sparks tour; Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Nancy Linari
First line: When Jones Cooper was younger, he didn’t believe in mistakes.
Maggie Cooper is a wife, mother, and psychiatrist, working and raising her children in The Hollows, New York, the town she grew up in. Her husband, Jones, is a detective on the local police force. Their son, Ricky, is 17, rebellious, and dating Charlene, a girl who doesn’t quite fit the picture of the type of girl they would choose for him. When Charlene disappears one night, suspicion initially falls on Rick. As the search for Charlene continues, secrets from a much earlier disappearance in The Hollows start to be revealed, and the truth will shake the Coopers and the entire town.
This is the type of contemporary thriller I really enjoy – authentic characters, good writing, and a slow unraveling of crimes. I also enjoy the use of a current crime/event to bring to light past secrets. Maggie thinks she has a good marriage, thinks she really knows her husband, Jones, but he has been keeping a huge secret from her – one that has had a profound effect on who he became as a man, a husband, and, especially, a father. When their son, Rick, is accused of having something to do with his girlfriend’s disappearance, Jones projects his own shame over his past onto Rick, and assumes the worst, causing problems in his marriage.
Unger is adept at writing characters and weaving their stories together. Often books from multiple points of view can be jarring in the transitions, or else be uneven, with a few characters proving more interesting than the others, but Unger pulls it off. I will definitely be looking for more of her work.
Although I was sent a print copy for this tour, I chose to listen to the audio edition, and it was my companion during Natalie’s latest stay in the hospital. I found myself listening more often than reading a print book, because the storyline had me hooked and I wanted to know how it turned out. The reader did a good job, varying the voices for each character enough that I always knew who was speaking, even during the point of view shifts. This is just the kind of book that lends itself perfectly to the audio format.