By Tara Laskowski
Two women, one alive and one dead, separated by 30 years, are at the heart of this mystery.
In the summer of 1985, Maureen thinks she’s found her destiny in Opal Beach when the carnival she’s working for stops there for the summer. She makes friends with Tammy, a town girl, and with the wider circle of Tammy’s friends.
Among them is Clay Bishop, whom Tammy’s sweet on and whose family owns a successful seafood chain.
But by summer’s end, Maureen disappears before the carnival leaves town. And no one except Tammy much cares.
In the fall of 2015, Allison comes to Opal Beach to recover from a messy divorce. She torpedoed her own career as a television meteorologist by interrupting an on-air weather forecast with a rant about her cheating husband who treated women like disposable umbrellas.
Her sister Annie has found her a job house-sitting on a scenic beach overlooking the Atlantic. It gives her a chance to concentrate on rebuilding her life.
Seeking reliable internet service, she heads for the local coffee shop, which Tammy owns. Tammy is startled by Allison’s resemblance to Maureen. Nudged by Allison, Tammy opens up about her lost friend and her suspicions that Maureen was murdered.
Switching back and forth between Maureen’s story and Allison’s, it’s clear the two women have much in common. As Maureen’s summer is ending and she must decide whether to leave with the carnival or find a way to stay in Opal Beach, she makes a series of desperate, high-risk choices.
For Allison, a stormy winter is arriving and she needs to find another job and get her life back on course. Yet she can’t let go of Maureen’s story. The house next door to where Allison is staying is owned by the Bishop family. A snapshot of Maureen is embedded in a collaged painting by a local artist hung in the house where she’s house-sitting.
And then, there are the mysterious packages that start arriving: Maureen’s half of a friendship necklace Tammy gave her, and a polished stone chess piece — a bishop.
Laskowski has done a captivating job of weaving past and present into this story. It’s a layered story of common threads, unfulfilled yearnings, betrayal and rage, vulnerability and exploitation.
There are plenty of twists and turns here — and lots of red herrings. The ending is a stunner. I’d put this book squarely in the category of well-done escapism, perfect for taking on a trip or reading by the pool.
About the Author: Tara Laskowski
ONE NIGHT GONE is Tara Laskowski’s first published novel. It won the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. She also is the author of two short story collections, MODERN MANNERS FOR YOUR INNER DEMONS and BYSTANDERS.
She has also won the Agatha Award and Thriller Award for her short fiction.
Tara grew up in Pennsylvania and now lives in Virginia. She earned a bachelor of arts in English from Susquehanna University and a master of fine arts in creative writing from George Mason University.
She was a longtime editor of the online flash fiction journal, SmokeLong Quarterly. She and her husband, crime writer Art Taylor, write the column Long Story Short at the Washington Independent Review of Books.