Since She Went Away
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Secrets and betrayal in small town Kentucky! David Bell pulled me into his latest cleverly crafted mystery with a tension-filled opening and kept me guessing until the end.

Two life-long friends, Jenna and Celia, plan to meet at midnight at a local park. Jenna shows up, but Celia never does, and now she’s been missing for months. Meanwhile, Jenna’s teenage son Jared has fallen for the mysterious new girl in town. She’s very secretive and has an uber-strict father, which worries Jared. Then suddenly, she disappears too.

I enjoyed trying to figure out how the two story lines would intersect. My heart went out to Jenna and Jared, who were good people forced into a terrible situation. The townspeople, internet, and even a relentless crime show host all have their opinions about who to blame, and that takes its toll on the main characters.

There were lots of twists in this book, different ways the mystery could have played out, and in the end I was shocked at who the culprit was. I thought the book ended too abruptly though, would like to have heard the reactions of the characters over what was revealed. What happened to everyone in the aftermath?

I always enjoy David Bell’s relatable characters and complex mysteries. Looking forward to his next book!

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Publisher: NAL
Release Date: July 7, 2015
Source: Review copy from publisher
Rating: ★★★★½

The breakout author of The Forgotten Girl and Cemetery Girl, “one of the brightest and best crime fiction writers of our time” (Suspense Magazine) delivers a new novel about a man who is haunted by a face from his past….

When Nick Hansen sees the young woman at the grocery store, his heart stops. She is the spitting image of his college girlfriend, Marissa Minor, who died in a campus house fire twenty years earlier. But when Nick tries to speak to her, she acts skittish and rushes off.

The next morning the police arrive at Nick’s house and show him a photo of the woman from the store. She’s been found dead, murdered in a local motel, with Nick’s name and address on a piece of paper in her pocket.

Convinced there’s a connection between the two women, Nick enlists the help of his college friend Laurel Davidson to investigate the events leading up to the night of Marissa’s death. But the young woman’s murder is only the beginning…and the truths Nick uncovers may make him wish he never doubted the lies.

David Bell has a knack for writing suspenseful crime fiction with a strong emotional, human element, and his latest, SOMEBODY I USED TO KNOW, is no exception. This is his third novel that I’ve read, and once I get started, I just can’t put them down.

The book’s opening is fantastic. The main character Nick sees a young woman who reminds him of somebody he used to know – his college girlfriend who died twenty years earlier. From that moment he is caught up in a web of lies, mystery, and murder. Nick is a very real, relatable character, determined to solve a complex puzzle to clear his name and uncover what really happened all those years ago when he lost his true love.

This was a fast-paced, suspenseful novel with several surprise twists along the way. It’s a perfect read for fans of dark mysteries and crime thrillers mixed with a poignant family drama. Loved it!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: NEVER COME BACK by David J. Bell

Publisher: NAL Trade
Released: October 1, 2013
Source: Borrowed from the Library

Elizabeth Hampton is consumed by grief when her mother dies unexpectedly. Leslie Hampton cared for Elizabeth’s troubled brother Ronnie’s special needs, assuming Elizabeth would take him in when the time came. But Leslie’s sudden death propels Elizabeth into a world of danger and double lives that undoes everything she thought she knew….

When police discover that Leslie was strangled, they immediately suspect that one of Ronnie’s outbursts took a tragic turn. Elizabeth can’t believe that her brother is capable of murder, but who else could have had a motive to kill their quiet, retired mother?

More questions arise when a stranger is named in Leslie’s will: a woman also named Elizabeth. As the family’s secrets unravel, a man from Leslie’s past who claims to have all the answers shows up, but those answers might put Elizabeth and those she loves the most in mortal danger.


NEVER COME BACK is another exciting and emotional family drama/mystery from author David Bell. Elizabeth Hampton’s life is thrown out of whack when her mother Leslie is murdered, and the police suspect her special needs brother Ronnie is the killer. Elizabeth is surprised to learn that her mother left a third of her estate to a mystery woman, also named Elizabeth, and that her will was changed recently. In her quest to find out who this other woman is, Elizabeth discovers some shocking secrets her mother had been hiding, and she believes those secrets have something to do with Leslie’s death. My favorite thing about this book was thinking I had the big secret all figured out, and then – surprise! I did not see that ending coming.

Elizabeth’s character wasn’t easy to like at first, but she grew on me. In the beginning, she came off as a little selfish and cold, but as the story progressed, I could see where she was coming from. Her brother Ronnie has Down Syndrome, and even though he’s fairly independent, he still needs someone to care for him. This was a huge source of contention between Elizabeth and her mother. Elizabeth loved her brother, but held some resentment toward him, since taking over his care would mean giving up her independence.

The murder mystery in NEVER COME BACK was intriguing, wrapped up in a web of family secrets, lies, betrayals. I do think that Elizabeth missed a lot of obvious clues, particularly ones her brother gave her. I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I’ll just say that things should have clicked into place for Elizabeth much sooner. Though some of the revelations along the way seemed far-fetched, overall I still enjoyed this book. The emotional family dynamics in David Bells’ mysteries make them worthwhile reads.

Rating: 3.75 Stars