The One That Got Away by Joe Clifford
Published: December 3, 2018
Publisher: Down & Out Books
Genres: mystery, thriller, psychological thriller
Rating: 3.5 stars
Recommend to fans of: all the characters are flawed, messed up small towns, small town mysteries with a big city feel
Foodie Vibes: beer at the local dive bar
In the early 2000s, a string of abductions rocked the small upstate town of Reine, New York. Only one girl survived: Alex Salerno. The killer, Ken Parsons, was sent away. Life returned to normal. No more girls would have to die. Until another one did.
It’s been twelve years since Kira Shanks was reported missing and presumed dead. Alex Salerno has been living in New York City, piecemealing paychecks to earn a livable wage, trying to forget those three days locked underground and her affair with Sean Riley, the married detective who rescued her. When Noah Lee, hometown reporter with a journalistic pedigree, requests an interview, Alex returns to Reine and Riley, reopening old wounds. What begins as a Q&A for a newspaper article soon turns into an opportunity for money, closure and—justice. The disappearance of Kira Shanks has long been hung on Benny Brudzienski, a hulking man-child who is currently a brain-addled guest at the Galloway State Mental Hospital. But after Alex reconnects with ex-classmates and frenemies, doubts are cast on that guilt. Alex is drawn into a dangerous game of show and tell in an insular town where everyone has a secret to hide. And as more details emerge about the night Kira Shanks went missing, Alex discovers there are some willing to kill to protect the horrific truth.
In the modern vein of Girl on the Train and The Bone Collector, The One That Got Away is a dark, psychological thriller, featuring a compelling, conflicted heroine and a page-turning narrative that races toward its final, shocking conclusion.
Thank you to NetGalley, Down & Out Books, and Joe Clifford for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. Sorry about the late review folks, my power was out for 3 days due to a winter snowstorm, so I’m a bit late on my book reviews.
The One That Got Away is all about small towns. Their secrets, the people, the drama. There’s certainly no forgetting and no forgiving in this town, and yet people don’t really want to investigate the truth.
I like that the author explores that a small destitute town can be filled with so much drama, complex interpersonal relationships, and heartache. Nothing and no one is perfect. And nothing is as it originally seems. People are complex and so are the life lessons in the book. It also explores how people seem to want the perfect little victim and Alex, the main character, isn’t that.
What happens when the victim grows up, has difficulty in life or just doesn’t fit into that cookie cutter mold of a sweet innocent victim? What if she has a voice that isn’t calm, polished and poised? What if she speaks her mind no matter what?
Despite all of these great questions and conversations the book brings up, there are some downsides to it. I didn’t like that the “r” word was used multiple times. Yes, it fits the ignorance of the characters who use it, but it still bothers me. Also the police detective … oh let me count the ways he crossed the line.
Overall, there’s more than what initially meets the eye with The One That Got Away. Complex themes, complex flawed characters, lots of drama and mystery fill the pages, keeping you captivated throughout.
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Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)