Review: The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon

Title: The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon
Publisher: HarperCollins
Imprint: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: 432 pages
Book Rating: B+

Review Copy Obtained from Publisher Through Edelweiss


The summer of 1985 changed Reggie’s life. Thirteen, awkward, and without a father, she finds herself mixed up with her school’s outcasts-Charlie, the local detective’s son, and Tara, a goth kid who has a mental hold over Reggie and harbors a dark secret. 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-an ex-model with many “boyfriends” and a thirst for gin-the most, Vera’s hand is found on the steps. But after five days, there’s no body and Neptune disappears.

Now a successful architect who left her hometown behind after that horrific summer, Reggie doesn’t trust anyone and lives with few attachments. But when she gets a call from a homeless shelter saying that her mother has been found alive, Reggie must confront the ghosts of her past and find Neptune before he kills again.

With her signature style, Jennifer McMahon portrays the dark side of adolescent friendship and introduces characters who haunt the imagination, along with a disturbing web of secrets, betrayals, and murder.

The Review:

Jennifer McMahon’s The One I Left Behind is a tautly woven and suspenseful mystery that seamlessly shifts between past and present events surrounding the unsolved kidnappings and deaths of several women at the hands of a serial killer known as Neptune.

In 1985, Reggie Dufrane is thirteen years old when her mother, Vera, disappears. Like Neptune’s other victims, Vera’s severed right hand is left on the steps of the police department but unlike the previous women, her body is never discovered. Twenty-five years later, Vera turns up at homeless shelter. When Reggie and Vera return to their hometown, another woman’s disappearance is eerily similar to the earlier kidnappings and Reggie is soon in a race against time to uncover Neptune’s identity before the serial killer murders another victim.

This fast-paced mystery is revealed through events leading up to and immediately following Vera’s disappearance, chapters from a bestselling novel about the Neptune killer and picks up in the present with Vera’s unexpected reappearance. The chapters alternate between the past and present and excerpts from the book. As the story progresses, the urgency grows to discover not only Neptune’s identity but also what transpired between Reggie and her childhood friends Tara and Charlie.

In this riveting character driven novel, Jennifer McMahon weaves together a compelling story of secrets, lies, betrayal and murder. A series of red herrings and misdirects will keep the reader guessing the killer’s identity until the novel’s explosive finale.

The One I Left Behind is suspenseful read that fans of murder mysteries are sure to enjoy.

1 Comment

Filed under Contemporary, Jennifer McMahon, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The One I Left Behind

One Response to Review: The One I Left Behind by Jennifer McMahon

  1. Timitra

    Thanks Kathy for the intro to this new to me author!