I read Jennifer McMahon's novel Island of Lost Girls back in 2008 and I really enjoyed it. (my review) As well as 2011's Don't Breathe a Word (my review) So, I was happy to pick up her latest offering - The One I Left Behind.
Regina Dufrane's upbringing was turbulent and unsettled. Her mother loved her, but was manic, often leaving her to her own devices. Her only friends were the other two outcasts at school. But in 1985, when Reggie is thirteen, a serial killer strikes their town. He takes women, leaves their severed hands on the steps of the police station and then their bodies appear five days later. He is nicknamed Neptune. But Reggie's world falls apart when the killer snatches mother. The killer is never caught.
Twenty five years later, Reggie has left town and is a successful architect. And her life is going along fine - until she receives a telephone call telling her mother Vera has been found - alive. Can she identify her killer? Where has she been all these years.
McMahon again employs her split narrative technique. We revisit the past through Reggie's memories and learn more about the case in excerpts from a book written about the killer. And of course through present day as Reggie returns to her hometown to be with her mother.
Although all the right elements are there and the style echoes McMahon's previous books, I just didn't love it as much as the first two. I found some of it far fetched - Reggie decides she can solve the crime better than the police - architect detective. The whodunit it was fairly obvious and the supporting cast all seemed to be caricatures rather than characters I cared about. The one person I did like? Vera. The plot did stretch credibility for me, as did the ending.
I chose to listen to The One I Left Behind. The reader was Julia Whelan. She has a pleasant, expressive voice and enunciated well. She has a slightly gravelly tone to her voice that gives some weight to her reading.
I like McMahon, but this latest book, in my opinion, didn't match her previous offerings.
Read an excerpt of The One I Left Behind. You can find Jennifer McMahon on Facebook.