I am a fan of Heather Gudenkauf and was eagerly awaiting this, her latest novel to read especially as the premise was a gripping one and it looked like it explored family secrets and lies, one of my favourite devices!
Sarah accompanies her husband Jack back to his home-town following his Aunt Julia’s hospitalisation following a fall at her home. Julia and her husband Hal had cared for Jack and his sister Amy following the death of his parents while Jack was still in his teens. The family was close but in twenty years of marriage this was the first time that the couple had returned to Penny Gate in Iowa. Once there Sarah, an investigative reporter soon realises that her husband has lied to her over the years and that’s when he hasn’t just refused to talk to her.
As Julia is ill in hospital and the family are turning on Amy who is clearly in a highly emotional state which is exacerbating a mental fragility, Sarah decides to find the missing pieces from the jigsaw that is the life of Jack Quinlan and what she starts to unearth quickly convinces her that Penny Gate is not a safe place she wants to be.
Unfortunately I’m afraid Missing Pieces didn’t quite live up to my expectations although I did need to read to the end to find out if my suspicions were correct; some were, some weren’t! The main issue I had was that the characters in this book, particularly Jack and Sarah who were a fairly unconvincing long-married couple. This combined with the fact that Sarah went into emotional melt-down on realising she hadn’t been told about one of Jack’s high-school girlfriends didn’t help. Now don’t get me wrong there were plenty of things that Jack should have discussed with her years ago but her response to this piece of news was far more fitting a teenager in a new relationship than one underpinned by twenty years of marriage.
While Sarah is out investigating what else Jack has hidden from her she meets the clerk, Margaret from the Sherriff’s office. This kind upstanding lady proceeds to risk her job, and one would presume the good-will of those around her by sharing information and files with Julia but she goes for it, just as well because without those missing pieces the truth would never have come out.
This wasn’t a bad read it just didn’t have much depth and although the characters were a little thinly-drawn the plot was good although you will note that I have some scientism on the methods used to move it along, and without spoiling the story there were many strands that the author kept sufficiently tangled to give serious misdirection on many aspects of the book. There was certainly enough points that kept my interest and it was perfect for a travelling day when books are opened and shut with alarming frequency as I moved to different modes of transport and their associated waiting areas.
I’d like to thank the publishers Harlequin UK for giving me a copy of Missing Pieces ahead of publication on 10 March 2016.