“Jones Cooper was a good cop. The Hollows was lucky to have him. Everyone said so.”
It’s a fact: Jones Cooper is a good cop. But another fact is that he carries a dark secret from long ago, a secret that could conceivably cost him his career, his marriage, possibly even his freedom.
Jones grew up in The Hollows, a small town just a hundred miles from New York City. He went to high school there, had all the right friends, dated the cool girls and grew up with grand ambitions. He knew he wanted out. New York City was where he planned to go. Nothing was odd about that; Jones’s dream of the city mirrored that of many kids in The Hollows. And like Jones, many never made it out. His reason, though, was much different from theirs.
As he looks back on his life, Jones still thanks whatever good fortune it was that hooked him up with Maggie, his wife. Maggie made it out once. She went away to college, became a psychologist, and wanted nothing more than to stay away from The Hollows. But it wasn’t to be. Family issues forced her back home, and Jones made her want to stay there. Maggie had not been one of the popular girls in high school, and the attention she got from Jones excited her. In truth, much about him excited her, and she found herself happy to be with him, even back in The Hollows. Ultimately, they married, settled down and had a son. Now, though, Jones’s secret threatens all of that.
The Coopers’ son Rick is repeating the cycle his parents started. A senior at The Hollows High, Rick can hardly wait to graduate and get out of this town. He and his girlfriend Charlene have great plans to break into the music business in New York. But there’s just something that keeps tripping them up.
As Jones’s past is coming back to haunt him, Rick’s present is falling apart. He’s in love with Charlene, but she seems to be distant lately. She stood him up at Pop’s Pizza, and then went missing that same night. Did she leave him behind for the glamour of the city? Actually, that might be the best scenario for Charlene, for as the hours wear on, the police and those who know her best start to worry about a more sinister reason for her disappearance. Thoughts return to a girl gone missing back when Jones was a teenager. Could there be a connection?
The Hollows is a fictional town that sounds like what we all think of as typical small-town America. Kids grow up, fall in love, start a family, and grow old there. Then another generation starts the pattern all over. There’s a comfort in knowing pretty much everyone in town. It somehow feels safer raising one’s children there. So when something so awful happens, it cuts deep.
Lisa Unger brings this little town alive with flourish, probing the tragedies and the victories of the citizens of The Hollows. Each character has a multi-layered complexity and his or her own dangerous flaw unseen in most novels. Unger, the bestselling author of BEAUTIFUL LIES, SLIVER OF TRUTH, BLACK OUT and DIE FOR YOU, has a rare talent for exploring the vast pallet of human emotions, and she wraps that talent around a highly intriguing story.
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on January 22, 2011