Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf is an interesting read. It’s a psychological thriller that offers some interesting insights into the impact long-kept secrets have on our relationships and those we love. It also challenges readers to consider how well we think we know those around us.
by Heather Gudenkauf
Published by Harlequin MIRA, Harlequin
on February 2nd 2016
Genres: Thriller / Suspense, Psychological Thriller
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’m not married and haven’t really had any long term relationships so struggle to imagine how a husband or wife could keep their past from their partner for many many years.
Every time I read a book about a spouse (or parent) who never shared information about their family of origin or early life I’m agog. I’m shocked when I learn something new about my parents… sure I’ve heard most of their stories over the years. I can’t imagine sitting back and letting someone get away with not divulging detail about their life.
But I am an inquisitive type, so maybe it happens.
Indeed, in Missing Pieces, Sarah has believed her husband Jack when he’s said his parents died in an accident and she’s asked no questions about his upbringing or early years. He’s barely been back to his hometown since their marriage and Sarah (and their college-aged daughters) have accepted that fact.
So… when she does finally get to go to Jack’s hometown and meet his family and friends she’s gobsmacked that the story he’s told her about his parents is not true and that their departure from his life was far more macabre than she could have imagined. On top of that they’ve returned ‘home’ at a time when past secrets are coming back to bite their keepers.
I have to admit being a bit shocked at how quickly Sarah started doubting Jack given she’d been married to the man for 20 years. She is surprisingly unforgiving about his need to run from his past… but, like I said, I’ve never been married so…
The pacing of the novel’s a bit mixed, which was okay. It’s a little plodding in parts—when everything seems to have settled down and things are back to normal—and then new secrets are uncovered and Sarah’s racing against time to understand what happened decades earlier and what’s happening now as a result.
The whole spousal distrust thing could be an interesting talking point for book clubs. Was Sarah justified in her anger and doubt? Should she have offered her husband of 20 years the benefit of the doubt? Should he have come clean earlier? Is it ever too late to fess up to your past?
Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf was published in Australia by Harlequin MIRA.
I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.