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.”
I was really looking forward to this book, but something about it simply didn’t grip me. I struggled with Jack and Sarah, who despite being married for 20 years, seemed to have little to no chemistry. Sarah used to be an investigative reporter, and is now a professional agony aunt, but she really doesn’t know her husband or his family well at all, nor does she seem that adept at reading other people. In fact, without an old family friend who happens to be an emergency dispatcher repeatedly breaking the law, Sarah wouldn’t even know that her husband had been the prime suspect in the murder of his own mother. His aunt has now died under suspicious circumstances, and his sister has been arrested so the question is, are they in on it together? Or is something else going on? We’re thrown quite a few clues all over the place to keep us guessing, and strange happenings are going on, like weird emails and dangerous encounters but the atmosphere never really built up for me.
The thing I didn’t really understand was since Jack knows that he’s taking Sarah back to the hometown, where everyone knows his secrets – why didn’t he just sit down and tell her before traveling? His passivity in allowing his wife of 20 years to find out all his dirty secrets from others made no sense to me. I get why he would hide it in the first place; but simply not why he kept quiet once they were there and I felt this was never really explained adequately.
It was also a bit of a passive story in that events progressed but Sarah didn’t really cause the story to progress at all, despite playing Nancy Drew. Things happen, and Sarah reacts. Overall I followed it through to the end and didn’t guess exactly what would happen as there were red herrings everywhere. It was an interesting story, but I just had a really tough time relating to Sarah or Jack.