No One Knows
In a way, the title for this book No One Knows is actually an excellent description of the plot. This story is all about how even in this digital age we can never really know what happened, we can never really know all we need to about what led to an event. Most importantly of all, we can never really know the people around us. Especially those closest to us.
Josh Hamilton seemingly had it all – an up and coming medical career, a beautiful wife, nice house, nice car, loving family. Then he had nothing. On the night of his best friend’s bachelor party he disappeared without a trace.
Aubrey Hamilton had it all – a handsome, soon-to-be-successful husband, nice house, nice car – and an insurance payoff of five million dollars protecting that lifestyle. Only that’s not quite how things worked. In one night she lost the house, the car, the husband and even her freedom. Even though she has since been acquitted of the (possible) murder of Josh, she has never been given a dime of the money that was meant to take care of her in the event of a tragedy. Because in spite of the fact that she was tried for his murder, Josh has never been legally declared dead. Without a body there is no proof that he hasn’t just run off somewhere.
This is all Aubrey’s past. Her present is that she lives like a nun in a small house in the bad part of town, stuck in a limbo of waiting for Josh. She sees him everywhere – in the walk of a man ahead of her at the park, in the smile of a stranger at a restaurant – she can’t seem to let go. Then she receives the letter. Daisy, Josh’s bitch of a mother, has had him declared legally dead. Daisy plans to take Aubrey to court and get the insurance money she feels rightfully belongs to her. Confused, conflicted and defeated, Aubrey joins her friends at a coffee shop that night and does something she has never done before – takes a man home with her. The sex is great and she soon finds herself in a relationship with him but what she doesn’t know is that for the second time in her life she has got herself involved with a man with some big secrets and everything is about to come full circle.
Told from multiple points of view and covering two decades in time, this is the story of Josh and Aubrey, two all American kids in the southland. It is the story of “seven and seventeen and five”. They met when Aubrey was just seven years old. Had been together seventeen years, where they saw each other almost every day. And then the five years of “After”, that dark time when Aubrey faced every day without him. This is also a story of secrets, how everyone has them and even those closest to them can never really know what those secrets will lead them to do.
In the tradition of recent psychological thrillers everywhere, this novel takes us on a riveting journey where we never know who to trust and where each new revelation makes us change our mind about everything we thought had happened up to that point. That means the author did exactly what she intended to do and gave us a book with a series of unreliable narrators and a plot that twists and turns more than any roller coaster ever could while still obeying the law of gravity. It makes for some interesting reading and of course, forces you to ask the question – how well do you really know the people in your life?
I’ll add that the prose here lends itself perfectly to the story. Ms. Ellison has a way with a sentence that quickly has you realizing that what we hear and what was said can often be two different things. She never misleads you but she does provide a tricky verbal trail that easily camouflages the truth. We know only what she wants us to know and our guesses, our desperate reaches for answers, will often prove completely incorrect.
So in many ways this is a perfectly executed psychological thriller. Fans of the author will delight in it and people who are picking up her work for the first time will be impressed. The only problem with the book that I could really find is its timing. I’ve read numerous thrillers since Gone Girl came out that while not just like this, are eerily similar. The fact is that the market is glutted with these tales right now and nothing about this story set it apart for me. It is intriguing and entertaining and beautifully written but it is one of many such books available on the shelves.
The above made picking a grade for No One Knows difficult. I can tell you that if you pick it up, I don’t think you will be disappointed. I also think if you are a fan of this genre, you will not be wowed. You will be pleased to read it and happy to recommend it to friends, but it won’t quite make the Desert Isle Keeper shelf.