To Me by
J. T. Ellison is her second standalone and domestic noir in
a row. For now she has moved away from her Lt. Taylor Jackson
and Dr. Samantha Owens series and is instead writing relationship
“I am not sure when the next book in the Taylor series
will be published. I have already starting writing it. My
next novel will also be a standalone about a young girl who
gets cancer and sees her life unravel. Sometimes it is easier
to write standalones since I am able to make up the entire
universe as I write and I do not have the limitations with
the characters. In my non-series books the crisis affects
the lay person, while the series has an unfolding investigation.
I do like to switch back and forth.”
The first half of this book can definitely be compared to
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. It has all the ingredients including
an unreliable narrator, a husband who appears to have a hand
in his wife’s disappearance; possible foul play; and
a marriage gone wrong. But then in the second half it takes
a dramatic turn away from the Gone Girl similarities and becomes
a whodunit murder mystery as the body counts start mounting
Ellison feels, “The story, situation, and characters
are nothing like Gone Girl. It is not Gone Girl in any way,
shape, or form. I actually got the idea for the story when
I was in Paris. I saw this person sitting across from me and
thought about having as my character an author placed in Paris
who decides to write about a murder. This was probably the
most challenging book for me to write.”
The husband, Ethan, and the wife, Sutton, are both writers.
They appeared to be blissfully married until their newborn
dies of SIDS. They spiral down with Ethan having an affair
and Sutton becoming increasingly unhinged, especially when
she is stalked by a blogger. Both are carrying secrets that
are sordid and harrowing.
There are truly unlikeable characters in this story. Both
Ethan and Sutton are self-centered, uncaring, and superficial.
They are so into their own problems that they look inward
instead of outward. The only character that readers will enjoy
is Holly Graham, the police detective assigned to connect
the dots. She is tenacious, determined, idealistic, and has
a fair sense of justice.
This story weaves a web of lies, betrayals, and murder. Even
though the characters are not ones readers will root for the
suspense will keep them turning the pages.