When did Lisa Scottoline write all of those books? It seems as though it was only a couple of years ago that her debut, EVERYWHERE THAT MARY WENT, was published, which introduced the Rosato law firm and a series of novels that has continued to burn strongly to this day. Scottoline has recently been interspersing new entries in her series with stand-alone efforts, as well as a collection of her newspaper columns. COME HOME, her 18th work of fiction, is another stand-alone title, and neatly brings together classic elements of mystery in a contemporary setting while addressing the social issues inherent in what are delicately referred to as blended families.
"COME HOME...neatly brings together classic elements of mystery in a contemporary setting while addressing the social issues inherent in what are delicately referred to as blended families.... This is a book that you will read as quickly as you can and share with friends, who will want to pass it on as well."
Jill Farrow is a pediatrician with a 13-year-old daughter named Megan by her first husband, now deceased. She is on the cusp of marriage to Sam, an academic who is everything she has ever wanted, including a wonderful father figure to Megan. In between her first marriage and Sam, Jill was married to William, a liar and thief who, when he was found out, abruptly left her and Megan, taking his daughters Victoria and Abby with him and forbidding Jill to have any contact with them under pain of a restraining order. Jill has moved on, as they say, in the intervening three years, but still misses the relationship she had with her stepdaughters.
As COME HOME begins, a distraught, tattooed and somewhat inebriated Abby shows up on Jill’s doorstep, breaking the news that William is dead. The police have ruled the death a suicide by deliberate ingestion of prescription drugs and alcohol, but Abby insists that it was murder and wants Jill to help her prove it. There are obstacles, though. Victoria, who is now a law student, wants nothing to do with Jill and accuses her of being manipulated by Abby, who admittedly is not the Abby that Jill and Megan used to know. Sam is not wild about the introduction of Abby into their family, considering her to be a troublemaker. He is doubly opposed to Jill involving herself in any sort of investigation into William’s death. After all, Jill is a pediatrician, not a detective. However, as is pointed out at an opportune point in the book, Sherlock Holmes’ investigative partner was a doctor.
In spite of Sam’s misgivings and Victoria’s hostility, Jill commences her own investigation. She is startled by what she discovers about her ex-husband, who, it turns out, she knew even less about than she originally suspected. Still, there are other problems. Abby mysteriously goes missing. Sam gives Jill an ultimatum: choose between her old family and the one she has. An unexpected witness is murdered shortly after talking to Jill. Megan needs her, but she is never there. There are problems at Jill’s medical practice. And she’s almost certain that she’s being followed as she slowly but steadily tracks William’s last days.
Is that enough of a storyline to whet your interest? Indeed. But while a mystery --- and not the one you might be expecting --- is at the heart of COME HOME, it is equally a story about relationships, one that poses the question: How far do you go to save the life of a child? The answer is evident: as far as is necessary. And when does your child --- biologically or by marriage --- stop being your child? The answer is equally as evident: never. COME HOME raises several issues, mysterious and otherwise, and resolves them by book’s end, all within the framework of a puzzling and suspenseful plot that keeps the characters moving and the pages turning. This is a book that you will read as quickly as you can and share with friends, who will want to pass it on as well.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on April 13, 2012