Frightful Friday: The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon

Frightful Friday is a weekly meme in which I feature a particularly scary or chilling book that I read that week. Feel free to participate by posting a link to your frightful read in the comments!

This week’s featured book is The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon:

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (January 2, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 006212255X
  • Source: Publisher

Reggie is just thirteen years old when her world is upended, life forever altered.  It was the summer of 1985. Reggie lived with her mother, Vera, a woman who had her own issues, namely being there when Reggie needed her. Instead, Vera spent most of her evenings out drinking, doing who-knows-what with a host of men. That summer, a serial killer referred to as Neptune begins abducting and killing woman. He cuts off their hand and leaves it on the steps of the police department. Five days later, the women’s bodies are found somewhere in town.

One evening, Vera fails to return home after an evening of festivities. This wasn’t abnormal but with all that is going on, Reggie is concerned. This concern is warranted, for Vera’s hand shows up on the steps of the police department. Five days later there is still no body and Neptune disappears without a trace.

Fast-forward twenty-five years. Reggie fled the horrors of her home town and now lives as a successful architect.  She’s tried hard to forget her past, including her remaining family and friends. When she receives a phone call from her aunt stating her mother has been found alive, Reggie is forced to confront all her horrid memories. Neptune also returns and Reggie realizes that she is the only one who can track down and put an end to his brutal killings.

Alternating between Reggie’s viewpoints as a teen and as an adult, The One I Left Behind is an incredibly haunting character-driven novel. A fan of everything McMahon has penned, this novel may very well top the list as my favorite. As with her other novels, McMahon’s main character is a young, unruly girl, a character type this author excels at writing about. McMahon is able so expertly capture the triumphs and tribulations of Reggie’s young life, realistically capturing each and every emotion she experiences. Additionally, McMahon throws so many loops to storyline and the possible identity of Neptune, readers are left guessing his(her!?) identity to the very end.

What I appreciated most about this novel was the examination and exploration of characters and relationships, mainly the relationships Reggie has with her mother and her best friend, Vera. It was quite interesting to see how these relationships shifted with time, completely transforming from their original state.

Bottom line, McMahon is simply a genius when it comes to writing literary suspense. With each novel she writes I grow to love and appreciate her writing even more. I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next. Highly, highly recommended.

1 Comment to "Frightful Friday: The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon"

  1. January 14, 2013 - 10:21 PM | Permalink

    I just peeked to see your final thoughts on this one as I’m currently reading it. But I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed it so much. This is my 1st book by this author but it definitely won’t be my last :)

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