EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


February 17, 2013

'One I Left Behind' delivers thrills and chills

Once upon a time, your parents diapered your behind. They didn’t mind, though, because it was part of being a parent.

They also fed you, cleaned up after you, put clothes on your little body, toys in your bedroom, and lessons in your head. And they made meals, curfews, and sacrifices.

Someday, you may need to repay the favor. And in the new novel, “The One I Left Behind” by Jennifer McMahon, such repayment comes at a very big price.

Thirty-nine-year-old Reggie Dufrane never wanted to return to Monique’s Wish. The old stone house once was a labor of love for Reggie’s grandfather, who built it for his wife, Monique, who died in childbirth. It is so full of bad memories, though, that Reggie never wanted to return.

When Aunt Lorraine phones, however, she has no choice.

Twenty-five years ago, Reggie’s mother, Vera, was the final victim of a serial killer that the media dubbed Neptune. Though they never found her body, they found Vera’s right hand, amputated neatly, the calling card of a killer.

Vera, however, is very much alive. She’s been living in a homeless shelter all these years, and now she’s dying of cancer. Lorraine demands that Reggie bring Vera to Monique’s Wish for her final days, though returning to a life’s worth of bad memories is something Reggie doesn’t want to do.

Vera wasn’t a good parent. Reggie spent more time with her aunt than with her mother, because Vera loved to drink. Lorraine resented that, and she seemed to resent Reggie, too. Because she felt unloved, and because of a childhood injury, Reggie grew up self-conscious, self-destructive, and unable to resist peer pressure from a reckless supposed-best friend.

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