Nancy Bush is one of our more prolific authors. Notable books
include her Jane Kelley mysteries and the recently published WICKED
GAME, which she penned in collaboration with her sister, Lisa
Jackson. For those of you familiar with Bush primarily from her
romance novels, be warned: UNSEEN is a dark, wild ride.
A pedophile’s attempt to kidnap a girl on the cusp of
adolescence is effectively, if brutally, broken up, leaving the
perpetrator mortally wounded. Subsequently, a young woman named
Gemma LaPorte shows up at a local emergency room with significant,
though not life-threatening, injuries that appear to have been
sustained in an automobile accident. Will Tanninger, a detective
with the Winslow County Sheriff’s Department, believes that
LaPorte’s injuries are consistent with those that might have
been experienced in a car crash. He alleges that she can’t
remember what happened to her. Tanninger keeps pushing and learns
that she has had other “lost time” experiences, as well
as a background of tragedy.
Even as he is putting a case against her, Tanninger finds that
he is slowly but steadily becoming attracted to LaPorte. But when a
murder occurs with the victim being an abusive husband and father,
the spotlight of suspicion is once again cast upon LaPorte.
Meanwhile, another series of horrific crimes is taking place, with
the victims in these cases being young women who have one very
subtle thing in common.
A doctor who has begun to treat LaPorte believes that she may be
afflicted with Dissociative Identity Disorder, which used to be
called Multiple Personality Disorder. Such a diagnosis could
explain much of what has occurred, but it would also mean that
LaPorte is in fact a murderer. As LaPorte and Tanninger approach a
consummation of their relationship, Tanninger finds that he may
have to make some difficult choices, ones that will ultimately put
him and LaPorte in surprising but lethal danger.
UNSEEN is a roller coaster of a reading ride. Bush takes her
time putting her blocks in place and then spends the last third or
so of the book unreeling all that has gone before. The revelations
are startling --- one particularly so --- yet Bush plays fairly,
leaving enough clues along the way that careful readers will figure
things out before turning to the last page. Nominally set in the
same literary universe as WICKED GAME, one does not need to have
read it in order to fully appreciate UNSEEN. What is perhaps most
stunning, however, is the manner in which the novel demonstrates
Bush’s wide versatility as a writer. She pulls no punches in
her graphic descriptions of lovemaking or mayhem-inspired revenge,
and there is no topic that seems to be off-limits.
While the book has a conclusive ending, Bush leaves some plot
threads dangling to explore in future novels. Longtime Bush fans
will find in UNSEEN a new side of the author to explore and
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 24, 2011