Published by Harlequin, Mira Books on February 2nd 2016
Genres: Fiction, Literary, Thrillers, Suspense
eARC provided by Harlequin
A woman uncovers earth-shattering secrets about her husband's family in this chilling page-turner from New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf
Sarah Quinlan's husband, Jack, has been haunted for decades by the untimely death of his mother when he was just a teenager, her body found in the cellar of their family farm, the circumstances a mystery. The case rocked the small farm town of Penny Gate, Iowa, where Jack was raised, and for years Jack avoided returning home. But when his beloved aunt Julia is in an accident, hospitalized in a coma, Jack and Sarah are forced to confront the past that they have long evaded.
Upon arriving in Penny Gate, Sarah and Jack are welcomed by the family Jack left behind all those years ago--barely a trace of the wounds that had once devastated them all. But as facts about Julia's accident begin to surface, Sarah realizes that nothing about the Quinlans is what it seems. Caught in a flurry of unanswered questions, Sarah dives deep into the puzzling rabbit hole of Jack's past. But the farther in she climbs, the harder it is for her to get out. And soon she is faced with a deadly truth she may not be prepared for.
Sarah and her husband Jack are going to Jack’s hometown of Penny Gate. Jack’s aunt Julia fell down the stairs and is in critical condition. Sarah knows Jack hates going home to Penny Gate because it is where he lost his parents. His aunt Julia and uncle Hal raised him after they died. Jack won’t talk about it, so Sarah uses this opportunity to ask the people who grew up with him what happened. Sarah soon finds out that Jack’s parents didn’t die in a car crash as Jack always claimed, his mother was murdered by his father. Jack was the prime suspect until his father fled the scene and he remains at large. When Julia dies in the hospital it turns out she might not have fallen at all. She might have been killed and everyone is a suspect, especially her husband Jack.
This story jumps right in as Sarah and Jack are on their way to Penny Gate. The whole story takes place there. At home Sarah is an “investigative” reporter, but it wasn’t really obvious since we are told early on that she writes an advice column. Sarah didn’t strike me as the sort of person who could have figured everything out. She is living a pretty easy life in Montana prior to this trip. Jack and her have been married for over 20 years, but he keeps things bottled up. I would think after 20 years you just stop asking those questions. They didn’t strike me as a loving couple at all. I didn’t buy their love for each other. It seemed like there was no trust, and you know, without trust there is no foundation for love.
Right away, Sarah is trying to figure out what really happened to Jack’s parents. She didn’t trust Jack’s version of what happened, especially when people in town start making comments that raise questions. I found her interest a bit off. She really puts her marriage in jeopardy when she goes snooping to find out. The people in this town are really helpful, while her in-laws are not. The focus should have been on Julia and her recovery, but it ends up being Sarah trying to figure out what happened to Jack’s parents.
This book is more of a domestic thriller. The guilty party is someone in the family, but who? Sarah looks really suspicious in her investigating. I don’t understand why she didn’t just go home, or why she didn’t just demand answers from Jack. She is so brave to investigate on her own, but she couldn’t confront her own husband? I admit I didn’t guess the guilty party at all. I mean there is a lot of finger pointing in this book so it is a complete mystery.
The problem with this book, if you haven’t already guessed, is with the main character Sarah. I didn’t buy Jack and Sarah being married for 20 plus years. I didn’t understand why certain members of the community were so willing to help Sarah. I didn’t really like Sarah. This book isn’t awful, but it just wasn’t something I enjoyed a lot. This book had enough to keep me reading, but to enough to be memorable at all.