Summary: A debut novel by award-winning author Holly Goddard Jones, about the people surprisingly connected to the discovery of a dead woman’s body in a small town.
Thirteen-year-old Emily Houchens doesn’t have many friends. She finds more comfort playing make-believe in the woods near her house in Roma, Kentucky, than with her classmates, who find her strange and awkward. When she happens upon a dead body hidden in the woods one day, she decides not to tell anyone about her discovery—a choice that begins to haunt her.
Susanna Mitchell has always been a good girl, the dutiful daughter and wife. While her older sister Ronnie trolled bars for men and often drove home at sunrise, Susanna kept a neat house, a respectable job, a young daughter. But when Ronnie goes missing, and Susanna realizes that she’s the only person in Roma who truly cares about her sister’s fate, she starts to question her quiet life and its value.
The Next Time You See Me is the story of how one woman’s disappearance exposes the ambitions, prejudices, and anxieties of a small southern town and its residents, who are all connected, sometimes in unexpected ways. Emily; Susannah; Tony, a failed baseball star-turned-detective, aspiring to be the county’s first black sheriff; and Wyatt, a fifty-five-year-old factory worker tormented by a past he can’t change and by a love he doesn’t think he deserves. Their stories converge in a violent climax that reveals not just the mystery of what happened to Ronnie but all of their secret selves.
Source: I purchased a paperback
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The Next Time You See Me was an enjoyable contemporary mystery that was character based and exposed some of the secrets and motivations of people in a small town, showing how their lives overlapped. It’s great for fans of Jennifer McMahon, Gillian Flynn, or Chevy Stevens and I enjoyed it.
The book was less about the whodunit and the journey for answers as it was about the various events and the glimpses of characters, figuring out who they were, and seeing how various people were interconnected in the small town. I enjoy introspective mystery novels like this because I feel like it shows us how screwed up people are. The endings are typically messy and watery, whereas the straightforward crime novels like to tie things up neatly and give us conclusions. I prefer the murky character based fiction because life isn’t neat and people, while they may have reasons for doing things, don’t always make sense or find what they are looking for.
I thought The Next Time You See Me was very well done in terms of creating characters. I felt as if I got to know all of them, even when they disappointed me by being cruel or weird or sad. I was shocked by Susanna’s story because so many people treated her sister’s disappearance as normal or trivial and I knew from Emily’s story that it was not trivial at all because I know Ronnie was not alive. The way town prejudices affected the lives of the characters was fascinating to me.
Holly Goddard Jones is definitely an author to watch and I recommend her to anyone who enjoys books by the authors I mentioned earlier because it’s the same sort of themes.