Edgar-finalist Gudenkauf (Little Mercies) exchanges her usual child-centered, topical stories for an old-fashioned melodrama in her hardcover debut. Physical therapist Jack Quinlan and his advice columnist wife, Sarah, are enjoying a comfortable life in Montana when they hear that Jack’s beloved aunt Julia, who took him in at 15 after his parents were killed in a car accident, has suffered a potentially fatal fall. Jack returns to his Iowa hometown for the first time in 20 years with Sarah by his side, but Sarah swings rapidly from supportive to suspicious when she discovers that he has lied about his past. Pestering the locals for information and the original case files, she learns that the circumstances of the deaths of Jack’s parents remain suspicious. The police classify Julia’s subsequent death as a homicide and target Jack and his troubled sister when investigating the linked crimes. Readers should be prepared for implausible plotting, an unsympathetic protagonist, and a clichéd denouement. Hopefully, Gudenkauf will return to form next time. Agent: Marianne Merola, Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/21/2015 Release date: 02/02/2016 Genre: Fiction
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