Review by Booklist Review
An author weighed down with writer's block seeks something real to write about and finds it in a longtime friend's harrowing account of his mother's sudden disappearance decades earlier. The title refers to a quote ("Omnia mea mecum porto") ascribed to a Greek sage meaning that knowledge is the one true valuable. The saying appears on the friend's sister's arm in the form of a tattoo. Landay focuses on the shadow the mother's disappearance has cast over the siblings' lives since childhood, and on the murky suspicion that hangs over their father. The writing itself seems almost deliberately murky here, switching gears often, at one point even including a "Gone Girl" letter from the mother to her children. The discovery of the woman's body, two decades after her disappearance, brings tensions to a boiling point. This is a toboggan ride of a novel, sometimes veering wildly, but its overall effect is exhilarating. Landay's Defending Jacob (2013) won the Strand Critics Award for best novel.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Author Philip Solomon, the narrator of this uneven mystery from bestseller Landay (Defending Jacob), decides to write a novel about a cold case: in 1975, 10-year-old Miranda Larkin, a brother of whom was a childhood friend of Philip, returned to her Newton, Mass., home after school to find her mother, Jane, absent. The police launched a missing persons investigation, which morphed into a homicide inquiry focused on Jane's defense attorney husband. No charges were brought. Decades later, Philip's choice reawakens many old wounds for Miranda and ends up causing rifts within the Larkin family. Landay movingly explores the impact of Jane's disappearance on Miranda, but the story of the Larkin family's struggles over whether one of its members is a murderer isn't particularly memorable. At one point, Philip holds forth on the port-wine stain on a police detective's face, remarking, "I want to get off the subject, as well, because as a writer I hate that port-wine stain. It is a clumsy, ridiculous device and, believe me, I'm embarrassed by it." This sort of writerly digression doesn't add much. Landay has done better. Agent: Alice Martell, Martell Agency. (Mar.)
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Review by Library Journal Review
Part crime drama, part psychological suspense, Landay's new novel (long-awaited since 2012's Defending Jacob) is absolutely unputdownable, with an ingenious plot and a cast of comprehensive, accurately depicted characters. It is just another Wednesday, mid-November of 1975, when 10-year-old Miranda Larkin comes home from school to an empty house. At first, she's ecstatic to be by herself--until it gets later and later and still her mother is nowhere in sight. Two decades later, Jane Larkin's remains are found. Her husband Dan, a slick and formidable defense attorney, is the main suspect, but there's never been any proof. Jane's sister is accusatory. The three children--Alex, who was 17 at the time of the disappearance; Jeff, who was 12; and Miranda--were the most affected by their mother's absence. They are forced to choose sides, either for or against their father. Forty years after the disappearance, a novelist takes up the story, telling it through the lens of this fractured family, from day one through all the trials and tribulations until a bitter end. VERDICT Fans of Megan Goldin and Hank Phillippi Ryan and those who like open endings, complex plots, stories about family dynamics, and convoluted whodunits will devour this novel.--Debbie Haupt
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
A woman vanishes, leaving her kids to wonder whether their father is a murderer. It's 2015, and author Philip Solomon has spent two years in search of an idea for his next project. Inspiration finally strikes while he's out for drinks with his childhood friend Jeff Larkin. In 1975, Jeff's younger sister, Miranda, came home from school to find the Larkins' Newton, Massachusetts, house locked and her mother, Jane, missing. Jane's purse was still in the front hall, so Miranda assumed she was running an errand. Hours passed, though, and Jane failed to return before night fell and Miranda's brothers, Jeff and Alex, and father, Dan, arrived home. The cops and Jane's sister, Kate, suspected Dan--a greedy, philandering criminal defense attorney--of foul play; without proof, however, the district attorney couldn't charge Dan, and the investigation went cold. Construction workers found Jane's body in 1993, but it provided no clues. As adults, the Larkin children now stand divided: Alex believes Dan's claims of innocence, while Jeff and Miranda do not. Although the novel begins with Phil as its narrator, Landay breaks the Larkins' tale into a series of "books," each set in a different era of the case and featuring a different storyteller and style. This approach allows Landay to explore how Jane's disappearance--and Dan's presumed guilt--impacts key players over the course of their lives but regrettably also leaves most characters half-sketched and bleeds what should be a riveting mystery of tension and drive. Devastating family drama that adds up to less than the sum of its parts. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.