Book Title: Since She Went Away
Author: David Bell
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, Suspense
Date Read: 11/03/16
Pub Date: 06/21/16
Three months earlier, Jenna Barton was supposed to meet her lifelong best friend Celia. But when Jenna arrived late, she found that Celia had disappeared—and hasn’t been seen again. Jenna has blamed herself for her friend’s disappearance every single day since then.
The only piece of evidence is a lone diamond earring found where Celia and Jenna were planning to meet, leading the national media to dub Celia “The Diamond Mom.” And even though Jenna has obsessively surfed message boards devoted to missing persons cases, she is no closer to finding any answers—or easing her guilt.
But when her son’s new girlfriend—who suddenly arrived in town without a past—disappears, a stricken Jenna begins to unwind the tangled truth behind Celia’s tragedy. And as long-buried secrets finally come to light, she discovers how completely lives can be shattered by a few simple lies.
David Bell’s novels are like old friends to me; they are reliable, comforting, and consistent. I have, in the past, saved them for times when I’ve hit a reading slump as I know they are the perfect book to curl up with and engage my mind. I actually picked his books back up right after my second baby was born; I read The Forgotten Girl and Somebody I Used To Know (which is my all time favorite DB novel) back to back and have fond memories of waking up early to peace and quiet while drinking my coffee and piecing through his stories. After finally catching up on all his previous novels, I wanted to wait a bit to read his latest as you might hold off the end of a binge watching marathon on Netflix; I just wasn’t ready to be “caught up” without another to look forward to. Once again, I found myself lost in Kentucky with characters who’s lives I wouldn’t envy but enjoy being privy to.
As with his others, SSWA is a classic whodunnit mystery with a side of character study; you always have the chance to follow along and try to solve the crimes yourself which is why I find these stories so engaging. The suspense is slow building but the interest is there from the first page; as a reader you are consistently led to a miniature reward while then returning to patience for the next reveal. The ending was a bit abrupt, but all the major questions are answered and gives closure to the reader. I was a bit surprised while reading this one as it was told in a completely different way than expected; I like how Celia’s character is left very vague and she almost takes a backseat to most characters, even though she is the focus of the main mystery. My favorite characters ended up being Jared and Sally; my only complaint was because I enjoyed Sally so much, I wish her character had somehow been worked into the few remaining chapters of the book.
All of David Bell’s novels have stunning covers, and this one is no different; I loved the pop of red in the umbrella and the smokey haze over the trees. These books are the chicken noodle soup of mysteries; they are not violent, graphic, and gory, but they contain all the intrigue of a high octane thriller and have the appeal of a cozy mystery without the storyline actually being cozy. If you’ve never given his novels a try, you really are missing out on some fantastic reads, as they have the potential to appeal to a very broad range of folks. I’m glad I picked this up when I did as it is the perfect read for cooler weather; I recommend snagging a copy and curling up by the fire with a hot cup of coffee. Well done David and cannot wait to see what you come up with next!