No One Knows by J. T.
Ellison is part mystery, part psychological thriller, and
part cautionary tale. It is one of those stories that show
fairy tales do not always come true. The themes of trust,
betrayal, and treachery are explored through the lives of
the main character.
Ellison noted, “People might compare it to Gone
Girl, but I wrote it before that book ever came out,
back in 2011. It was based on a dream I had when my husband
and I went to a wedding at the Opryland Hotel in Tennessee.
After sending me a drink he disappeared. I was looking for
him and as I rushed into the parking lot I saw the author
Harlan Coben, who wanted to give me career advice. Unfortunately
I never got it because I woke up. I did not have it published
then because Catherine Coulter popped up in 2012. She wanted
me to start writing with her so I shelved this book. Of course
Gone Girl came out a few months later. But now after
numerous revisions I have published my first stand alone.”
As the story unfolds readers will wonder which character they
can truly trust and believe. The main character, Aubrey Trenton
Hamilton, thinks she has met her savior, a knight in shining
armor who will love her unconditionally. She and Josh live
in marital bliss until his disappearance. Ellison breaks the
storyline down into time periods based on Aubrey’s relationship
with Josh, having spent the first seven years of her life
not knowing him, the next 17 years of her life side by side
with Josh as childhood sweethearts, and 5 years mourning his
unexpected disappearance and possible death. In those five
years she has known nothing but emptiness, solitude, and loneliness.
With alternating past and present chapters, readers get a
feeling of knowing the characters inside and out.
Aubrey is an unreliable narrator, a complex character who
is put into an extraordinary circumstance. She has had a harsh
life, losing both her biological and adoptive parents. This
frail person just wants to be loved. This becomes evident
with not only Josh but someone she meets, Chase Boden. He
has an uncanny resemblance to Josh, from his mannerisms to
the way he walks, Readers go on the same journey as Aubrey
wondering if she will ever be able to forge a life beyond
The reason Ellison has the setting at the Opryland Hotel is
for its monstrous landscape. She explained, “It is so
easy to get lost in. I thought it a great setting to start
off the book. It is a metaphor for this story because anyone
who visits there can get turned around and see different things
at different times.”
Even after her husband, Josh, is declared legally dead Aubrey
has a hard time moving on. She is still obsessed with finding
the answers behind his disappearance. People will understand
how someone can almost lose their sanity wanting answers.
It is a reminder how missing persons can sometimes be worse
than knowing someone is dead, considering there is no closure.
Although the plot is not based on this, Ellison tells of her
own experience with a missing person. “I had a friend
who went missing and never has been found. In 1992 in South
Carolina after a U2 Concert she just disappeared, and was
never heard from again. I know she didn’t run away to
create a new world for herself. It is horrifying to me to
think what her family has to go through even to this day.”
No One Knows will have inevitable comparisons to Gone
Girl, but this is a more realistic storyline. It will have
readers guessing who can be believed and what are their ulterior
motives. Ellison messes with the character’s head as
well as the readers with her many twists and turns.