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by Tara Laskowski
Graydon House, October 2019
352 pages
ISBN: 1525832190

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

ONE NIGHT GONE by Tara Laskowski is a fresh breath of ocean air. A young teenager goes missing from a beachside town. Maureen Haddaway thought she had finally found the place for a new start in Opal Beach with new friends and new parties. But her new life lasts just three months. One night she's there, and the next she is missing.

Thirty years later, newly divorced Allison Simpson travels to Opal Beach to hide away from her ruined career and try to start fresh. Shortly after arriving, Allison is befriended by Tammy and learns about Maureen, who had been Tammy's close friend. No longer able to relax or retain any privacy in the small town, Allison begins to dig into what really happened and soon receives clues that point towards a more sinister ending for Maureen than a voluntary disappearance.

ONE NIGHT GONE blew me away with its excellent interwoven story of friendship and betrayal. Switching between the POVs of Allison and Maureen, the novel has a useful way to show how the small town has aged in the decades since Maureen's time. It's fascinating to see the little differences and connections between the past and present like new restaurants in the present that were only ideas in the past.

The characters are their own shining stars, and all are balanced perfectly so you don't lose track of who is who. Maureen seems like a typical teenage runaway, and yet she has a mature air. There is such a confidence about her that it's shocking to discover how she fell into her fate, but when you remember that she was still just a teenager, everything makes sense.

Allison is a tougher character to get to know. She keeps to herself, even from the reader, in the start. The more she becomes acquainted with the town, the more the characters seem to know about her than the reader gets the chance to. She becomes obsessed with Maureen and her disappearance, yet there is no reason why she should. Many characters comment that Maureen and Allison are very similar or could be related, but it's established very quickly there is no relationship between the two at all. While the mystery itself was wonderful, I keep questioning why Allison became so involved.

One other thing that confused me in the story was a possible supernatural element. Allison sometimes seems to hear voices or memories that belong to Maureen despite having no knowledge of what those voices mean. These events happen when she is alone, and they are never fully explained. Like the resemblance between the two characters, the reader never learns their significance. It just isn't quite connected with the mystery of what happened to Maureen.

A big feature of the novel is weather. Allison is a former weather woman, and so she would obviously be alert to the elements. Sun, rain, ice, storms - weather is such a huge presence in the novel that it almost becomes a character itself. And yes, weather is supposed to change, however its vivid descriptions, its variance, how the characters must adapt to it, all create a stunning element that heightens every emotion and scene.

ONE NIGHT GONE is a page turner like no other. Its brilliant writing, characters, and enigmatic mystique make it perfect for cozying up with on a stormy night.

Keshena Hanson recently earned a degree in English from University of Wisconsin - Green Bay, and was published in the University's Sheepshead Review. Her love for mystery started with Blue's Clues, and now she reads any mystery she can get her hands on.

Reviewed by Keshena Hanson, November 2019

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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