REVIEW: WHAT YOU LEFT BEHIND, BY SAMANTHA HAYES

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A stolen motorbike, a crazy ride, her arms wrapped around him as they took the dangerous curves…and then the crash.

Our mysterious first person narrator opens the story of What You Left Behind: A Novel. We meet her again at the very end, and learn her identity, but in the meantime, the story picks up after the opening lines, with DI Lorraine Fisher and her daughter Stella leaving Birmingham for a week in the country. Jo, Lorraine’s sister, lives in Radcote with her teenaged son Freddie, and there have been some troubles.

A series of apparent suicides in the area have everyone on edge, especially the more recent ones. Suicide notes were found, but as soon as Lorraine realizes that the DI handling the cases there is her old colleague, Greg Burnley, who is known to be lazy with a tendency to cut corners, she finds herself wrapped up in the mysterious elements that don’t add up, initiating some investigations on her own.

In a neighboring manor, Tony and Sonia Hawkeswell reside, and Sonia runs the homeless shelter, New Hope, where two of the recent decedents were living. Sonia’s son Simon was also one of the recent apparent suicides.

Tony’s autistic brother Gil lives near the Manor in a tack house and his odd behavior sends up red flags. But is he guilty of something? Or just keeping lots of secrets?

Why did someone steal a laptop from the shelter? Who is torturing Freddie with cruel texts? And is Frank evil, with his ominous presence, or is something more going on?

The story was riveting, and while there were many red herrings along the way, and although I thought I had everything figured out, there were stunning surprises that came at the very end. Including the identity of the mysterious narrator. There were also multiple narrators throughout the book, allowing the reader to feel the suspense as it mounted gradually, and as it intensified, I was literally holding my breath. Definitely another 5 star read from this author.

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