One I Left Behind (McMahon)

Book Reviews
McMahon expertly ratchets up the suspense, but it’s her full-blooded characters that make this thriller stand out from the serial-killer pack.

Totally engrossing... Hard to put down... A quick read that is highly entertaining.
Oklahoma City Oklahoman

A mesmerizing psychological thriller.... McMahon fills The One I Left Behind with unpredictable twists and turns as she explores that great mystery of the human heart.
South Florida Sun Sentinel

(Starred review.) 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.
Publishers Weekly

(Starred review.) 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.... 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.
Kirkus Reviews

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