I have found a new author I love, which means I will never ever truly make it through that Book Lover’s To Do List. You know the one I mean. Fellow book lovers each have one of those endless lists of treasures they aspire to enjoy. Don’t Go by Lisa Scottoline is directly responsible for my red eyes this morning. Last night I sat up reading well into the wee hours so I could finish this lovely story. Don’t Go is a murder story with a strong family theme of fatherhood, familial loyalty, love, trust, addiction and new beginnings, set against a backdrop at home in the United States and abroad in Afghanistan. Don’t Go by Lisa Scottoline begins with a hook so dramatic that I was reeled in right from page one. Don’t Go by Lisa Scottoline is difficult to put down.
The Plot: Chloe, is the wife of Mike, a trauma surgeon serving in Afghanistan. As the novel opens Chloe lays dying on her kitchen floor, confused about what has just happened and, in an apparent drunken episode. While drinking she has decided to empty the dishwasher and a knife slipped, slashing her arm. As Chloe lays slipping in and out of consciousness ( she can’t stand the sight of blood) she fights to crawl to the front door and also struggles to reach a phone. She knows her sister-in-law should be home any moment from Christmas shopping with the baby and she will find her there and help her, she thinks as she lay dying. But the sister-in-law is not fast enough and yet the door lock is open and someone finds Chloe laying there. Will they call 9-1-1? Who is at the door? Is Chloe’s death as straightforward as it seems? Many mysterious circumstances surround Chloe’s devastating and deadly wound.
Meanwhile Mike is performing surgery in Afghanistan. We learn he is a foot and ankle surgeon _ in high demand because war injuries are often foot related due to bombs and land mines. He is operating as usual with his picture of beautiful wife and baby girl, Emily tucked into his pocket as a good luck charm and suddenly he gets a call that he will need to take a leave of absence for a funeral. Mike is about to go home when another tragedy occurs. This one adds emotional dimension to the character of Mike. He is a character who seems like he might not ever be able to get his head above water after such devastating insults to body and spirit. His homecoming is tragic because he is also now a widower and he intends to reclaim his role as a father but also realizes his infant daughter essentially doesn’t even remember him. How will he help her to get accustomed to his presence in her life.
Don’t Go by Lisa Scottoline is a gripping read with emotional layers and a strong suspense element. I loved that the character Mike seemed to have strong three dimensional appeal and was well researched. The topic of the emotional reality of war, war veterans and people who sustain traumatic war injuries seemed authentic. The actual resolution of who the antagonist is came late in the novel and was less predictable than I might have thought.
If I have any critique of Don’t Go by Lisa Scottoline, it would be this: her characters never seemed to grab me by the heart and shake. Some authors are extremely skilled at pulling on the heartstrings. Lisa Scottoline has moments and for sure I was applauding and getting upset at moments in the book, especially during the child custody trial. But I never really felt the author’s hand around my heart. The characters are good. Mike is a solid male character. Danielle and Bob both have moments where their dialogue is really smart and rings true. But nobody made me cry. It’s a minor thing, but books are like customer experiences – you might not always remember what you bought, but for sure you recall you it made you feel. Don’t Go made me feel angry and happy and sad and invested but it didn’t ever hit the deep reserve of emotion that some authors are extremely talented at tapping into.
Lisa Scottoline is a New York Times bestselling author. She and the author of over 21 novels. She is published in 30 countries and she is also a weekly columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Lisa Scottoline is an author I will definitely read again. She is readable and her characters are relatable and Don’t Go is a great little summer read by the pool or at the beach.
Don’t Go is by Lisa Scottoline, published in 2013 by St. Martin’s Press, New York, 400 pages, $18.50 in Canada and $15.99 US.
This one gets $$$$ 1/2 out of $$$$$