This edge-of-your-seat thriller goes back and forth in time between 1986 and 2018. Stunning revelations punctuate the story from the very beginning, set in August, 2018. Andrea (“Andy”), 31, is living at home with her mother in Belle Isle, Georgia. Andy’s life has pretty much been a failure up to this point, and Andy lacks confidence and quick-wittedness, especially in comparison to her popular and competent mother Laura. Laura Oliver is 55, and works as a speech therapist. As the story opens, the two are at a diner at the mall when a killer comes into the diner and starts shooting. Andy is paralyzed with fear, but her mother takes matters into hand. Afterwards, although her mother is injured, she roughly tells Andy to move out that very night. It’s all very bizarre. Andy wonders, who was this woman who could do what she did? Who was her mother?
The shocks are only just beginning for Andy. She left to go stay at her dad’s house, but decided to go back for her bicycle. She discovers Laura in yet another life-or-death situation. This time Andy reluctantly helps, with horrendous consequences. She is forced to flee – her mother gives her money and an address for a storage facility in a small town hours away. Andy realizes she has never known her mother; she has only seen pieces. She knows only that she might be followed, and the level of tension is almost unbearable.
Then the narration switches to 1986 and we find out a bit more about Laura’s life. This doesn’t mean the action slows at all, however. The twists and turns on the road to enlightenment for the reader seem like driving on narrow switchbacks over the mountains. I admit to doing what I rarely do, which is occasionally paging ahead so I could breathe sufficiently to make it through the next segment of the story.
In the end, a final twist caught me totally unawares.
Evaluation: I’ve read a great deal of Karin Slaughter’s books, and this one felt very different than the others. But I’m not complaining!
Published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins, 2018