“That morning, well, the objects around me have no more significance than they did the day before. It seems wrong, doesn’t it? His reading glasses on the nightstand don’t send me some big message. His water glass doesn’t tell me the things I should know.”
With a tiny touch of remorse at the guilty thrill of being alone --- if just for a little while --- Dani Keller savors the unexpected “me” time. Ian, her husband, must have gotten up early and gone out, so she has the whole house to herself. But after a few hours, the delight of “me” time turns into worry, then anger, then fear. Ian left no note, isn’t answering his cell phone, and his car is in the parking lot.
"I was glued to HE’S GONE from the first paragraph. Putting it down when life intervened was maddening."
That party. What happened last night? Dani remembers drinking more wine than usual. And she’s pretty sure she took one of those Vicodin tabs she had. Or could it have been two? There was some kind of argument, but about what? And then she remembers the bliss of kicking off her shoes and climbing into bed. Where was Ian then? Had he already left? Was the fight worse than she imagined?
Dani notices that she has a few holes in her memory, which starts to scare her the longer Ian’s absence stretches on. She calls everyone they know, including his ex-wife and estranged daughters. Is it possible he decided to return to his old life after they argued? Might he have run away in search of a new fling? After all, he cheated on Mary with Dani, and then there was that lady in the red dress at the party.
As the picture of Dani’s relationship with Ian slowly comes into focus, details emerge that take the story in another direction, then another, and then another. Both of their previous marriages --- how they began and how they ended --- put a slant on why their current situation is what it is. As the days stretch on with no sign of Ian, Dani agonizes over old failings and more and more sees fault where there may be none. Her desperation is turning deep inside and threatens to totally undo her. She is falling apart as quickly as her old blue car, which is definitely on its last legs.
I was glued to HE’S GONE from the first paragraph. Putting it down when life intervened was maddening. Deb Caletti’s writing style is comfortably conversational, and Dani comes across as the flawed, doubting, self-destructive woman she is. We all can identify with well-crafted characters at one point or another, but there were many connections with Dani for me in this story. There’s bound to be for you, too. I think even men will find some “aha” moments --- and may understand women just a little bit more after reading the book. As for whodunit? You really have to get all the way to the end to discover what happened. You’d better get started now.
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on May 17, 2013