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Saturday, December 21, 2019

For a Thriller, This Generic Mystery Doesn't Really Thrill

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

In 1985, Maureen Haddaway—a young woman trying to start anew—arrives in Opal Beach, New Jersey, one summer with the traveling carnival for which she works.  Drawn to the wealth and sparkle that define life for the rich townies, Maureen's paycheck-to-paycheck existence becomes entwined with their idyllic lives.  Before the summer ends, she vanishes without a trace.  It's assumed that a vagabond like Maureen simply moved on without telling anyone, but is it true?  Or did something more sinister happen to her?

Thirty-plus years later, 40-year-old Allison Simpson comes to Opal Beach to lick her wounds.  After a video of the television meteorologist ranting wildly about her cheating husband goes viral, she's fired from her job.  With nothing left to lose, Allison accepts a house-sitting gig on the shore, figuring she can get some much-needed R&R while figuring out what to do with herself now.  She hears the story of Maureen Haddaway's disappearance from Maureen's former Opal Beach BFF.  Before she knows it, Allison is obsessed with figuring out what happened to the beautiful carnie.  It soon becomes evident that someone in town does not want Allison digging into the past.  Can Allison figure out what happened to Maureen before she becomes the next woman to mysteriously vanish from Opal Beach?

Yeah, yeah, I know the premise at the center of One Night Gone, a debut novel by Tara Laskowski, sounds awfully familiar.  I've read dozens of mystery/thrillers with the same basic plotline.  Still, it's one I'm always sucked in by, especially when an author puts their own unique spin on it.  Unfortunately, Laskowski doesn't do anything special with this one.  The story feels far-fetched and generic throughout.  Its cast consists of cliché, one-dimensional characters who aren't even likable.  While I did want to know what really happened to Maureen, I can't say I cared overly much about either her or Allison.  Neither one appealed to me.  As far as plot goes, the tale is predictable, with no real twists or turns to keep the reader on their toes.  Overall, then, this "thriller" didn't offer many thrills.  For me, it was an average read at best.  Bummer.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (a couple F-bombs, plus milder expletives), violence, sexual content, and depictions of underage drinking/partying and illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of One Night Gone from the generous folks at Harlequin via those at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!


  1. Thrillers that don't thrill, horror novels that don't horrify, predictable mysteries, etc. are all frustrating to me. You have a lot more patience than I have. I abandoned 20 books this year, about twice the number I used to give up on; that makes me wonder if I'm just getting pickier or if too many mediocre books are being published.

    Have a great Christmas!

  2. At least I don't have to add this one to my TBR list. ;D


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