Sunday, March 10, 2019

And Then You Were Gone

And Then You Were Gone by R. J. Jacobs
Crooked Lane Books: 3/13/19
eBook review copy; 288 pages
ISBN-13: 9781683319597

And Then You Were Gone by R. J. Jacobs is a highly recommended novel of mystery and suspense.

Emily Firestone is taking a weekend sailing trip with her boyfriend Paolo. Emily has her bi-polar disorder under control and, although she's panicked over being out on the boat in the lake because she can't swim, she feels like she can keep her panic at bay. Paolo is a strong swimmer and an experienced sailor. He has assured her she will be safe and they will have a lovely weekend. After dinner and drinks on the boat the night before, Emily awakens the next morning on the boat, Paolo is gone, she has a horrible headache, and the boat is drifting around the lake. Emily manages to get back to shore, report Paolo as missing. What could have happened to him?

When evidence begins to suggest that something more sinister is afoot and Paolo's disappearance may be due to foul play, Emily begins to forget her meds and is moving into a manic state - or is she just naturally concerned? The more she discovers, the more erratic her behavior becomes. The more erratic she becomes, the less she sleeps.  Soon she is high on the police's list of suspects.

Emily is an unreliable narrator and trusting what she thinks she knows and believes can be a struggle at times because you don't know what her state of mind is - especially since she mentions frequently as the novel progresses that she's forgot her meds, isn't eating, and she's not sleeping. All of these factors make her incredibly unreliable and untrustworthy as a protagonist. Adding to the mix are other characters who either begin to doubt Emily or are suspicious themselves.

While the plot will hold your interest and moves quickly, the narrative flow in this novel can be a bit bumpy at times. Part of this is due to Emily's state, and part to an inconsistency in the narrative. Events do start to collate into some semblance of a timeline, but questions still remain about why Emily is allowed so much freedom to move about considering she's a suspect. If you set aside any little niggling questions about certain details (which could have been handled in final editing) this is an enjoyable mystery with an exciting climax. 

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Crooked Lane Books.

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