Title: Don't Go
Author: Lisa Scottoline
Publisher: St. Martin's Press/Macmillan Audio
Publication Date: April 9, 2013
Source: CD copy received from the publisher for an honest review
Plot Summary from Goodreads:
Lisa Scottoline's Don't Go introduces us to Dr. Mike Scanlon, an army doctor called to serve in Afghanistan, who is acutely aware of the dangers he’ll face and the hardships it will bring his wife Chloe and newborn baby. And deep inside, he doesn’t think of himself as a hero, but a healer.
However, in an ironic turn of events, as Mike operates on a wounded soldier in a war-torn country, Chloe dies at home in the suburbs, in an apparently freak household accident. Devastated, he returns home to bury her, only to discover that the life he left behind has fallen apart. He’s a stranger to his baby girl, and his medical practice has downsized in his absence. Worse, he learns a shocking secret that sends him into a downward spiral.
Grief-stricken, Mike makes decisions upon returning to Afghanistan which will change his life forever. It’s not until he comes home for good that he grasps the gravity of his actions, and realizes he must fight the most important battle of his life, to reclaim his life and his daughter. Along the way, he discovers that everything is not as it seems, and he learns ugly truths about those he loves the most, as well as the true meaning of heroism.
One of the first reviews I ever did on this blog was for Lisa Scottoline's Look Again. While I didn't give it a roaring endorsement, I was left feeling like I needed to give her work another shot. Read the plot summary of any one of her books (this one included), and I think you'd be hard-pressed not to want to pick it up like NOW. She comes up with some truly unique and twisty plot ideas, and since most of them fall into a "women's fiction" category, my interest is always piqued.
Her latest release is Don't Go, and I decided it was high time for me to give her novels another shot. Overall, I'm glad I did, though this book had its high and low points for me as well.
The best thing about this novel is the sense of mystery surrounding it, right from the first chapter. It's told from Chloe's perspective as she dies, and there's a cliffhanger ending to the chapter that left me saying, "Okay, I'm committed to reading this entire book now, WELL PLAYED." As with Look Again, I often thought I knew exactly who was involved in each part of the mystery--in fact, at one point I was not looking forward to writing this review, because I was going to have to call the book out for being so predictable. However, SMUGNESS IS NOT YOUR FRIEND. Learn from me. My predictions were totally wrong, and the ending took a turn that I truly did not see coming. I love it when a book can completely unravel my super-sleuthing skills, so this was certainly a big advantage for the novel.
The flip side to this is that, at times, the details of the plot seemed carelessly handled--and in one place, they were downright wrong. I never do this, but I have to throw in a SPOILER ALERT right now so that I can illustrate my point. Did you see it? I SAID SPOILER ALERT! SPOILERS ALL UP IN THE PARAGRAPH BELOW! You have been warned.
Okay, so when Mike returns from Afghanistan, he finds out from Chloe's autopsy report that she was 4 weeks pregnant. OH MAN, major downer, because in the words of Maury Povich, he is NOT the father since he was in Afghanistan at that time. Mike then finds some emails between Chloe and a mystery suitor proving that they had sex while Mike was away. Here's the detail that (really REALLY) bothered me: Chloe died December 15. The emails show that she had sex with Mystery Guy around November 11. THAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU 4 WEEKS PREGNANT ON DECEMBER 15. It makes you roughly 6-7 weeks pregnant. This is biology, people, so get ready for some knowledge. The first two weeks of pregnancy, you're not really pregnant. You conceive at around the 2 week mark. If she was 4 weeks preggo on December 15, she conceived around the end of November. This was an absolutely GLARING mistake, and since it plays a significant role in the mystery around Chloe's death, it bothered the heck out of me.
SPOILERS OVER. CARRY ON.
There was also a point in the novel where Mike got in a fight, the cops were called, and the cops showed up and immediately arrested him without interviewing him OR the person he fought first. This is another example of a head-scratching detail that detracted from the reading/listening experience for me. I just wish a little bit more care had been given to finer points such as these.
Okay, enough of my overzealous attention to detail. Let's talk about the narration on the audiobook. Jeremy Davidson did a really excellent job voicing this novel. He's a perfect pick as the main character (Mike)--especially because many of you may recognize him from the TV show Army Wives. However, he also had an impressive array of other voices that he had to portray, and he did a great job making each character distinct for the listener. I'd say the only one I was iffy on was Mike's friend Jim--he was supposed to have a Philadelphia accent that came out more like a southern California surfer dude. But that aside, Davidson does excellent work here, and lends an appropriate air of drama to the entire story.
Overall? Don't Go is a fantastic pick if you want a family drama with lots of unpredictable twists. Scottoline definitely excels in making readers second-guess their ideas about a plot, and I think that's a huge plus in her novels. However, the details weren't always handled well, which led to a clunky reading experience for me. Readers who are less hung up on nitty-gritty plot points may, admittedly, have a smoother ride than I did!
Other reviews of Don't Go:
An Unconventional Librarian
Ramblings of a Marine Wife
Robin Reads and Writes
Now, A GIVEAWAY!
I have one audiobook CD copy of Don't Go to give away to a lucky reader. It's been used (once, by me!) and is in great condition. Just enter using the Rafflecopter below (US entrants only please). Giveaway closes May 20!
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