Reviews for One I Left Behind
Booklist Reviews 2012 November #1
Reggie Dufrane was a gawky teenager when a serial killer dubbed Neptune began kidnapping women in her sleepy hometown of Brighton Falls, Connecticut. (The killer would leave one severed hand from each victim on the police department steps, then display their bodies around town.) Reggie and her misfit friends--gutsy goth Tara and crushworthy Charlie, the cute son of the local detective--are pulled into Neptune's web when Reggie's mother, Vera, becomes the latest victim. A former model, Vera wasn't around much for her daughter, and Reggie wonders if her mother's insatiable appetite for liquor and men made her a target. Like the others, Vera's amputated hand is soon left by the killer. But her body is never found, and little hope remains of it being discovered. Some 25 years later, Reggie, now a successful architect in Vermont, receives word from a hospital that her mother is alive. She returns home, unearthing old demons and harrowing family truths. In this latest offering, McMahon's alternating chapters--jumping between present and past--slow the momentum of an otherwise well-spun tale. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2012 October #2
Although the title seems irrelevant to the plot, McMahon scores a solid touchdown in this creepy but engrossing thriller. Reggie returns to her hometown of Brighton Falls when her aunt Lorraine calls to tell her that Reggie's mom is in the hospital after spending a couple of years in a homeless shelter. Both Reggie and her mother's sister are astounded that Vera has surfaced since they, along with the police and the entire town, assumed Vera died years ago after being kidnapped by a serial killer known only as Neptune. The serial killer, so named because of a tendency to always feed the condemned victim a meal of fresh lobster and drawn butter right before death, murdered three young women. All three were found nude and posed in prominent areas of town, but five days prior to each death, Neptune delivered a milk carton holding the victim's right hand to the police department's steps. After Vera disappeared, her right hand was also found, but her body never turned up. Young Reggie and her friends Tara and Charlie spent a frantic few days looking for Vera after she vanished but found little evidence of her whereabouts. Now, Reggie has come back only to face her dotty aunt and one-handed mother in their crumbling stone home. Tara, the brittle, oddball friend she hasn't seen in years, has become a nurse and has been hired by Lorraine to stay with Vera, who has been diagnosed with a deadly cancer. Who was Neptune? Everyone is hoping that Vera can tell, but she's not talking or at least not making any sense when she does talk. And Brighton Falls' nightmare seems to be in full swing again, much to Reggie's horror. If McMahon has one sin where this novel is concerned, it's that she allows the adult Reggie to occasionally behave like the teenager in one of those horror flicks who ventures down into the basement because she heard a noise. Readers will find themselves unable to turn the pages fast enough in this perfectly penned thriller. Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 October #4
At the start of this haunting work of literary suspense from bestseller McMahon (Don't Breathe a Word), Vermont architect Reggie Dufrane receives a startling phone call--her idolized mother, Vera, who was snatched by the notorious serial killer known as Neptune when Reggie was 13, has been found alive. Flashback 25 years to 1985 Brighton Falls, Conn. Even before her mother's severed right hand, like those of Neptune's other female victims, shows up on the police station steps, followed by lurid revelations about Vera's life, the fatherless teen has been struggling as a vulnerable outsider, far too enmeshed with fellow outcasts Charlie, the detective's son on whom she has an unrequited crush, and Tara, the daring goth. Now, for the first time in decades, mother and daughter return to Brighton Falls, where they discover, to their peril, that Neptune may be back. Grippingly plotted, this intricate, character-driven story seamlessly shifts time as McMahon explores such favorite themes as dark familial secrets, flawed relationships, and the potentially destructive power of sex, all anchored in a vividly evoked suburban Connecticut landscape. You won't soon forget Reggie, fierce yet fragile, but likely to stick with you even longer is the central conundrum of the extent to which our pasts enslave us and how much we can set ourselves free. Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (Jan.) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC