Do we ever really know those close to us? Author Kieran Scott probes this question deeply in the sharp and stylish Wish You Were Gone. A bump in the night leads to the horrific discovery of a loved one’s body, and the secrets just keep spilling out as suburban wife and mom Emma Walsh tries to unravel the complex web of lies that made up her “perfect” life.
When a noise jolts Emma awake in the wee hours, she doesn’t expect to find her husband James’ car crashed into the garage—and James deceased inside it. Though Emma’s life appears ideal, with a beautiful house in a tony New Jersey suburb, a spouse who runs a successful sports PR firm in Manhattan and two beautiful teens in private school, only Emma and her kids know it’s all a facade. James had alcoholism and was prone to fits of rage, getting into a physical altercation with his own children mere hours before smashing his prized BMW. But is his demise more than a simple case of drunk driving? Meanwhile, one of Emma’s best pals, single mom Lizzie, is struggling with her finances, while Emma’s other close friend, successful lawyer Gray, is dealing with a suddenly scarily unpredictable spouse. Are their problems intertwined, tied up in James’ complicated legacy?
In her debut thriller, Scott, who has previously published romance and YA, displays a whole new talent for complex adult suspense. Though Wish You Were Gone is a quick read, it’s also thought provoking and relatable. Emma’s not the only one hiding things; everyone has secrets behind closed doors, whether it’s a pile of unpaid bills, trouble with a peer group or a partner struggling with unexpected mood swings and irrational actions. Through bite-size chapters from the perspectives of her teenage children and her two closest friends, we learn the personal issues they all fight to cover up until it’s almost too late.
Each of Scott’s characters is multifaceted and realistic, from inquisitive Emma to relentless, Type A Gray, to Emma’s children: Gifted athlete Hunter is traumatized by his final encounter with his dad, and artistic Kelsey longs to escape a school she doesn’t fit into and harbors her own guilt over her father’s last day. Though we don’t get her perspective, Lizzie’s youngest daughter, Willow, a proud outsider and gifted magician with a penchant for taking what doesn’t belong to her, shines as well.
Wish You Were Gone has a fascinating mystery at its center, but it’s ultimately a character-driven story featuring real people with real problems.