Never Coming Home
Lucas Forester, the narrator of Hannah Mary McKinnon’s latest thriller Never Coming Home, grieves his missing wife, who has disappeared with no explanation. They had the perfect marriage. He is clever, witty, and handsome, and Michelle is gorgeous, wealthy, and the curator of a Boston gallery.
He begins his narration at the bedside of his mother-in-law, who adores him. Lucas and Michelle’s neighbors, Diane and Karina, live across the street in Chelmswood near Boston, and Diane is Nora’s hospice nurse. Along with his other duties, Lucas tries to keep his addicted brother-in-law Travis from overdosing. Lucas has his hands full while he fears for his missing wife and deals with suspicious Detective Anjali Dubal who is working to bring his wife home.
Sound like your average thriller? Think again.
McKinnon has created such a fiendishly sinister tale with so many twists and turns that you’ll have to wear a neck brace.
Lucas has not only killed his father-in-law and made it look like an accident (a mishap he calls it), but he’s had Michelle killed too. At first, I thought this novel should be titled “How to Commit the Perfect Murder.” With his compelling voice, he explains precisely how he hired a killer from the dark web to take care of his wife so he could inherit her wealth. With his wife gone, he now plays the grieving husband. Add “great actor” to his many talents.
But why stop there? The family is loaded. Why not go for it all? His mother-in-law is dying, so that’s no problem, but the brother must go, and he strategizes on how to help his brother-in-law overdose.
Lucas thinks he’s smart, especially after successfully escaping Bobby Boyle, who is after the 50k Lucas owes him. Lucas has changed his physical characteristics and name and moved to the States, but someone knows the truth and is after him. Crazy and scary situations start happening, like fragments of a photo of Michelle showing up in envelopes in different places. He’s forced to check where his wife is buried to ensure she’s dead. But the nerve-wracking incidents escalate, and even though Lucas thinks he will figure it out, will he?
Poor Lucas has no idea what he’s in for.
McKinnon brilliantly sets us up to, if not to like Lucas, but to admire his audacity and wit. He’s devoted to his father and likes Nora, the matriarch, saying it’s sad she’s terminally ill. He has a dog named Roger that Michelle would have taken to the pound. His best trait? He’s funny. He knows who he is and admits he’s bad. One time after playing the grieving husband, he decides he needs to tone it down because “Nobody wanted to be around an overdramatic, constant crybaby regardless of their circumstances.” Thanks to McKinnon’s character development, we get lines such as when he’s describing the detective as having expressions “more public library than open book.”
Lucas, however, is too smart for his own good. As the pressures mount, he starts making mistakes. And prepare yourself for the ending. I thought I knew what was going to happen, but… no. In the words of an online reviewer, it’s a “boffo read” right to the end.
McKinnon has pulled off creating a character who charms, murders, and makes you laugh. She does it with exemplary writing skills, delivery of pertinent details (pay attention), and formidable plotting. This is one thriller you won’t soon forget.
Thanks to Mira Publishing and Hannah Mary McKinnon for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.