Synopses & Reviews
The summer of 1985 changes Reggie’s life. An awkward thirteen-year-old, she finds herself mixed up with the school outcasts. That same summer, a serial killer called Neptune begins kidnapping women. He leaves their severed hands on the police department steps and, five days later, displays their bodies around town. Just when Reggie needs her mother, Vera, the most, Vera’s hand is found on the steps. But after five days, there’s no body and Neptune disappears.
Now, twenty-five years later, Reggie is a successful architect who has left her hometown and the horrific memories of that summer behind. But when she gets a call revealing that her mother has been found alive, Reggie must confront the ghosts of her past and find Neptune before he kills again.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Haunting and harrowing, The One I Left Behind offers enthralling suspense but also so much more: a richly poignant tale of the families we're born into and the ones we build ourselves." Megan Abbott, author of Dare Me
"[A] haunting work of literary suspense....Grippingly plotted, this intricate, character-driven story seamlessly shifts time." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"McMahon scores a solid touchdown in this creepy but engrossing thriller....Readers will find themselves unable to turn the pages fast enough in this perfectly penned thriller." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
About the Author
Jennifer McMahon is the New York Times bestselling author of Don't Breathe a Word, Dismantled, Island of Lost Girls, and Promise Not to Tell. She grew up in suburban Connecticut and graduated from Goddard College. Over the years, she has been a house painter, farm worker, paste-up artist, pizza delivery person, and homeless–shelter staff member, and she has worked with mentally ill adults and children in various capacities. She lives in Vermont with her partner, Drea, and their daughter, Zella.