Gone Tonight

St. Martin’s. Aug. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9781250283979. $29. THRILLER
This solo effort from Pekkanen, coauthor of several thrillers with Greer Hendricks, including The Golden Couple, touches on the commonplace struggle between parents and children—the desire of a parent to protect at all costs and the rights of children to know certain truths. Catherine Sterling’s mother, Ruth, is the only family she has ever known. Ruth says her family disowned her when she became pregnant with Catherine as a teen. She refuses to speak about them or anything else about her past, including the identity of Catherine’s father. In light of devastating medical news, Catherine feels that it’s important to learn her mother’s story. But Ruth is resistant, even responding with anger when she is asked. Alternating chapters from both characters’ points of view divulge most of Ruth’s secrets from her past, including incidents of domestic violence and sexual assault. The tension lies in the cat-and-mouse game between mother and daughter, as one works hard to unravel the other’s secrets, while the other goes to extreme measures to keep the truth from being revealed. Each of their motives also lies in question, as well as their reliability as narrators.
VERDICT Recommended, especially for domestic-thriller fans interested in something other than marital dramas.
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