Missing Pieces is the newest book written by Heather Gudenkauf. I have meant to read one of her books for years and probably own most of the rest of them. I've heard really good things about them and decided this was where I would begin. So, what did I think? Well, it was an interesting story, but it did leave me with some questions and a tiny bit of dissatisfaction. Let me tell you more.
Our story begins with Sarah and Jack Quinlan returning to his hometown of Penny Gate, Iowa. Jack's Aunt Julia has been in an accident and she's hospitalized in critical condition. His aunt and uncle opened their home to Jack and his younger sister, Amy, after their mother and father died. Amy still lives in Penny Gate, but her life has been difficult due to many bad decisions. Jack left Iowa for college, met Sarah and moved to Montana, where they had two daughters who are now college age themselves. Sarah thinks that she and Jack have been pretty happy with their life. She thinks that she knows most things about him and his family, even though she's had very little contact with them. She thinks wrong.
After arriving in Iowa, the Quinlans meet the rest of the family at the hospital where Julia lies in a coma. And slowly, things begin to change. Sarah finds out that Jack's parents were not killed in a car accident. His mother was murdered. His father was suspected of being the killer. And that's not all. As the hours pass and Julia's condition deteriorates, Sarah's old journalistic instincts come into play. An advice columnist now but formerly an investigative reporter, Sarah is faced with the knowledge that her husband has lied to her and kept a lot about his life secret. Jack's family is grieving and worried, but acting oddly. Sarah doesn't know these people well enough to judge whether they are hiding things too. Did Julia actually have an accident or did someone try to hurt her? As Sarah digs and digs, she places herself in danger. What happened so many years ago and how does it relate to the Quinlan family today?
I was quickly drawn into Sarah and Jack's story. Aunt Julia's accident and their trip to Iowa kept me turning the pages. Learning that Jack had been hiding things for over 20 years and puzzling out what those things might be was interesting. I read a lot of crime novels, so I guessed a solution pretty early on in the book. But, that's more my familiarity with mysteries probably. My issues came when I felt that Sarah's decisions didn't make a lot of sense. She kept changing her mind for one thing and she was very quick to mistrust her husband. Yes, he had kept things from her, but still...as a former investigative reporter, her methods seemed a bit erratic. One of the characters that assisted Sarah in her quest and the actions that character took seemed way too simplistic. And the whole scene in the library where Sarah was making copies was unbelievable. Small town library. Everyone would know what she was doing - certainly the librarian.
I also didn't feel that I knew Jack very well and didn't get enough info about why he acted the way he did through the years. I felt the same about some of the other characters. Sigh. I guess this probably was not the book for me to start with in reading Heather Gudenkauf's writings. I liked it well enough to keep reading, but I was frustrated multiple times and rolled my eyes. I give this book one thumb up and one thumb down.
I am willing to take another chance on a Gudenkauf book though. Have you read this book or any of her others? What was your experience and do you recommend another one as a better book? Reactions seems to be mixed about Missing Pieces, so I think my experience is not unusual. Again, maybe I'm too well versed in mysteries and crime stories. Tell me what you think - please! And thanks. Would I recommend this one? Maybe to people who don't read a lot of crime novels or who like more gentle and less complicated mysteries.