Lisa Scottoline has always been known for the intensity and accuracy of her legal thrillers. With her new novel, DON'T GO, she delivers all of this intensity, as well as an insightful psychological portrait of a young father in crisis.
Mike Scanlon, a podiatrist and member of the Army Reserve Medical Corps scheduled on a surgical team in Afghanistan, is eager to wrap up his tour of duty. He desperately misses his beautiful wife Chloe and knows that he's missing out on a lot of milestones for their seven-month-old daughter, Emily, who was only a month old when Mike left for Afghanistan. But then, out of the blue, Mike learns that Chloe is dead, the victim of a household accident.
"DON'T GO is a well-paced novel of suspense, which includes not only a well-crafted mystery but also Scottoline's trademark courtroom scenes. Just as importantly, though, her latest book is a probing psychological portrait of a man in crisis, a glimpse at how a moment of tragedy and its aftermath can cause someone to spiral out of control."
When Mike arrives back home in Pennsylvania on bereavement leave, he starts to wonder whether he ever really knew Chloe at all. It appears that she became a heavy drinker in his absence, drinking vodka even while driving her car. Alcohol was almost certainly a factor in her death; if she had not been intoxicated, she would have woken up after cutting herself with a knife, instead of bleeding to death on the floor. And, as Mike soon discovers, her drinking is only the first of several secrets she had been keeping from him.
Almost as heartbreaking, Emily not only doesn’t recognize her father, she screams uncontrollably when he tries to interact with her. Confused, angered, and unsure what to do next, Mike returns to Afghanistan, leaving Emily with Chloe's sister Danielle and her husband.
When tragedy strikes in Afghanistan, Mike, now wounded and shellshocked, returns to his old life. But he soon discovers that simply sliding back into it is not as easy as he might imagine. He's still haunted by Chloe's betrayals, Emily's rejection, and his own grief and pain. And, driven to find out more about what exactly happened to Chloe while he was in Afghanistan, Mike is soon on a downward spiral that might land him in court, in jail --- or worse.
DON'T GO is a well-paced novel of suspense, which includes not only a well-crafted mystery but also Scottoline's trademark courtroom scenes. Just as importantly, though, her latest book is a probing psychological portrait of a man in crisis, a glimpse at how a moment of tragedy and its aftermath can cause someone to spiral out of control. Scottoline also offers an insightful portrait of life in the military, of how these soldiers become one another's families in the absence of their spouses and loved ones. The battlefield scenes are tense and uncomfortably realistic, as are the depictions of Mike's dependence on prescription painkillers following his injuries. His failed attempts to connect with Emily are genuinely heartbreaking, as are his feelings of betrayal by Chloe and by others in his old life.
Scottoline offers readers a nuanced, multi-dimensional portrait of a young man in crisis, couched in a page-turner of a story that will appeal to her many fans.
Reviewed by Norah Piehl on April 19, 2013