Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner

Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner
Pub. Date: January 31, 2017
Source: e-ARC via publisher (Thank you, Dutton!)
Summary: Eight years ago, Sharlah May Nash’s older brother beat their drunken father to death with a baseball bat in order to save both of their lives. Now thirteen years old, Sharlah has finally moved on. About to be adopted by retired FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his partner, Rainie Conner, Sharlah loves one thing best about her new family: They are all experts on monsters.

Then the call comes in. A double murder at a local gas station, followed by reports of an armed suspect shooting his way through the wilds of Oregon. As Quincy and Rainie race to assist, they are forced to confront mounting evidence: The shooter may very well be Sharlah’s older brother, Telly Ray Nash, and it appears his killing spree has only just begun.

As the clock winds down on a massive hunt for Telly, Quincy and Rainie must answer two critical questions: Why after eight years has this young man started killing again? And what does this mean for Sharlah? Once upon a time, Sharlah’s big brother saved her life. Now, she has two questions of her own: Is her brother a hero or a killer? And how much will it cost her new family before they learn the final, shattering truth? Because as Sharlah knows all too well, the biggest danger is the one standing right behind you.
Genre: Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery

2016 was the year I (finally) discovered Lisa Gardner. Throughout my years as a bookseller I became very familiar with her work, but never actually took the time to sit down and see what all the fuss was about. All that changed with Crash & Burn, a novel that was fun in a totally wacky, bonkers sort of way. After that, however, came Find Her, the novel that truly sealed the deal and had me eager for more. The awesome publicists at Dutton must have taken note of my fanatical flailing, because I received not only a copy of The 4th Man, a short story, but also a copy of Right Behind You. You know those books you are SO excited for that you’ll push everything else aside and dive right in? Yeah.

Eight years ago the lives of two children changed forever. Though Telly and Sharlah were loved by their mother, she was often too high to protect them from their father’s alcohol-induced rampages. One night he went too far, chasing the children throughout the house with a knife after stabbing their mother. Telly, only nine years old and terrified out of his mind, grabbed a baseball bat and swung. Years later the siblings are leading very different lives: Telly has bounced around from foster home to foster home and now he’s finally at the cusp of aging out, while Sharlah is well on her way to being adopted by Pierce Quincy and Rainie Conner.

After eight years of no contact with her brother, Sharlah’s past and present finally meet: a double murder at a gas station, the armed suspect mowing down anyone who comes near, two foster parents gunned down in their bed. Could Telly be responsible? Why would he kill again after eight years? Is he coming for Sharlah next?

Right Behind You is a doozy of a novel. From the first page I was hooked and if you’re at all worried about jumping into a series late in the game, don’t worry: Right Behind You is the seventh book in the Quincy & Rainie series, but I had no problem following along; each book seems to be able to stand on its own. That said, I’m now more eager than ever to go back to the beginning and really get to know these characters!

Quincy and Rainie are both, as Sharlah puts it, experts on monsters, and soon find themselves in the middle of the manhunt for Telly, not only because it’s their job, but also because they now have a personal connection to the case. Several recent photos of Sharlah are discovered among Telly’s belongings, but how does he know where his sister lives when they haven’t had any contact with each other in nearly a decade and, more importantly, what do those pictures mean? Is Telly trying to send them a message? Does he want his sister back? Eight years ago Sharlah said her brother hated her… Telly brutally attacked and murdered his father, his mother is dead, is he looking to finish the job and do away with his last remaining relative?

Diving deeper into Right Behind You, it’s evident that there’s SOMETHING going on, something far bigger than the local police department ever imagined and I was right. there. every step of the way. Saying anything more would be giving away massive spoilers – that’s all you’re getting from me, sorry!

While I absolutely loved this book, I had one teensy, tiny quibble. Sharlah is 13 years old. She’s certainly bright I’ll admit (and even ends up sitting in on meetings with Quincy and Rainie, going so far as to give her own thoughts) but one thing struck me as odd. Early on in the novel she’s talking about Quincy and Rainie’s house and she goes into architectural detail. At length. I was caught off guard that someone her age would be so familiar with building knowledge and the terms she was using – though if this is the biggest complaint I have about the novel, that’s definitely saying something!

Right Behind You is a lightning-fast read that kept me turning the pages until the very end. I love playing detective, trying to figure out what’s really going on, and this book gave me a run for my money! It’s a book that doesn’t give its secrets up easily, it makes you work for them, and I loved that. Although this is the seventh book in the series (and my first) it reads nicely as a standalone and I had no trouble following along – if anything it made me more curious about how these characters got to this point and now I’m dying to start the series from the beginning! My absolute favorite thing about Lisa Gardner novels is that, if you donate money to charities she supports (or win contest on her site) she’ll turn you into a character! Your namesake might die a gruesome death within minutes of their introduction, but how awesome is that? So, so cool. One of my favorites in Right Behind You is Molly, a rescue Pit who plays a pretty hefty role in the book.

Whether you’re already a dedicated fan of the series or are simply someone looking for an intense thriller, Right Behind You is a book you’ll definitely want to check out! I devoured it in record time and cannot wait to see what Lisa does next.

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