I think of myself as a fan of ‘the Lisas’ – Lisa Gardner, Lisa Jackson, Lisa Scottoline and Lisa Unger. And there’s possibly more. However… I have to admit I’ve now been disappointed with the last few I’ve read by Lisa Jackson and more by the delivery than the plot or storyline itself.
Cassie Kramer and her younger sister, Allie, learned the hazards of fame long ago. Together, they’d survived the horror of a crazed fan who nearly killed their mother, former Hollywood actress Jenna Hughes. Still, Cassie moved to L.A., urging Allie to follow. As a team, they’d take the town by storm. But Allie, finally free of small-town Oregon, and just that little bit more beautiful, also proved to be more talented—and driven. Where Cassie got bit parts, Allie rose to stardom. But now her body double has been shot on the set of her latest movie—and Allie is missing.
Police discover that the last call to Allie’s phone came from Cassie, though she has no recollection of making it. Instead of looking like a concerned relative, Cassie is starting to look like a suspect—the jealous sister who finally grew sick of playing a supporting role. As the tabloids go into a frenzy, Cassie ends up on a Portland psych ward. Is she just imagining the sinister figure who comes to her bedside, whispering about Allie—a visitor of whom there is no record? Is someone trying to help—or drive her mad?
Convinced she’s the only one who can find Allie, Cassie checks herself out of the hospital. But a sudden slew of macabre murders— each victim masked with a likeness of a member of Cassie’s family—makes Cassie fear for her safety and her sanity. The only way to end the nightmare is to find out what really happened to Allie. And with each discovery, Cassie realizes that no one can be trusted to keep her safe—least of all herself…
The book includes a lot of references to the events of Allie and Cassie’s childhood and the stalker fan of her mother’s. I did wonder if this was a sequel as the incident was mentioned in a very offhand way – as if we knew all about it – but gets referenced again and again. And again. Despite my usual apathy I did a quick search through Jackson’s books and couldn’t find any sign of a predecessor… so that was kinda weird. (Yes, I am truly a dedicated reviewer of books.) 😉 #yourewelcome
We’re privy to the minds of Cassie and her mother Jenna (and occasionally Trent, Cassie’s estranged husband). I particularly struggled with Cassie’s character, who – on one hand – openly admitted she was jealous of her younger sister’s success; but on the other, defends her behaviour and tends to play the victim. She ultimately came across as petty and immature.
The underlying plot had potential but it felt like there was a lot of extraneous information included about characters who were seemingly irrelevant. I wasn’t sure if Jackson was thinking their backstories would help make them more believable as red herrings, or if it was just padding. If it was the latter, I’d recommend a good edit to make the book sharper and less repetitive.
As is so often the case (for me!!!) I was disappointed at the ending. Not the ‘whodunnit’ part – as we were kept guessing – but more the amount of information dumped on us by way of explanation over the last few pages.
While I don’t regret this read and it had some potential; it could have been a lot tighter.
After She’s Gone by Lisa Jackson will be published by Kensington Books in late December 2015.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley from the publisher for review purposes.