Grab a towel—although it’s early in the year, JoAnn Chaney’s As Long as We Both Shall Live is the perfect beach read, a multiple-murder and suspense saga that will keep readers engrossed and guessing.
Two women are killed, one in 1995, the other in 2018, both wives of successful salesman Matt Evans. The second incident is a literal cliffhanger: Matt and his second wife, Marie, are hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park when she falls off a steep cliff into a raging river below.
Detectives Marion Spengler and Ralph Loren doubt the double tragedies are coincidences, although Loren, who appeared in Chaney’s first novel, What You Don’t Know, is bedeviled by his own demons, including a former partner who mysteriously disappeared and whose remains have recently been unearthed. Half-Korean and-half American young mother Spengler is a likable, determined sleuth likely to appear in future novels.
Chaney continues to explore dark themes with her quick but effective character studies and zippy prose. The Colorado-based author is particularly adept at juggling multiple narrators and plot lines, revealing a multitude of tantalizing thoughts and actions while keeping the suspense as high as those Rocky Mountains. Chaney adds to the intrigue a host of song references, calling the novel’s first two sections “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and “Mama, Just Killed a Man.” Appropriately, the title of the book must be a nod to the Deicide death metal song, “Not as Long as We Both Shall Live.”
As one detective tells naturally suspicious Spengler, “You shouldn’t take anyone at face value.” And neither should readers of As Long as We Both Shall Live. Movie rights have already been snatched up by producer Bruna Papandrea, whose projects include Gone Girl, “Big Little Lies” and The Nightingale.