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Choose Me


Choose Me

In CHOOSE ME, Tess Gerritsen and Gary Braver examine how different people respond after experiencing betrayal and abandonment. How, for example, might a middle-aged police detective live her life after her husband dies in circumstances that at best can be seen as a betrayal of their marriage? How differently might a college coed respond to being dumped by her boyfriend after her father left his family years before? We also must consider that the very act of having an affair, cheating on one's spouse, is certainly a kind of abandonment --- of sacred commitments, promises, moral values and even common human decency.

Frankie is the Boston detective who is on the scene after the supposed suicide of Taryn Moore, a beautiful college student with a promising future. We find out right away that Taryn had been heating a frozen mac and cheese dinner right before she died, which seems strange for someone so despondent that she would end her life before consuming the hot meal. We also learn that she wrote an essay, "Hell Hath No Fury: Violence and the Scorned Woman." Little do we know at this point the importance of the piece and the irony of the title.

"In CHOOSE ME, Tess Gerritsen and Gary Braver examine how different people respond after experiencing betrayal and abandonment.... This solid mystery forces us to consider not just the significance and validity of the #MeToo movement but also the aftermath of such an affair."

The novel is presented in two timelines, BEFORE and AFTER, and the whole story is shared from three points of view: those of Frankie and Taryn, both of whom understand abandonment, and Jack, the college professor who teaches a seminar for seniors, "Star-Crossed Lovers." Here his students read classics like THE AENEID, THE ROMANCE OF TRISTAN AND ISEULT, MEDEA and ROMEO AND JULIET, and he thinks of it as "a sexy package of love, lust, and ultimate tragedy." This is irony in the extreme considering what will transpire between himself and his most dedicated student, Taryn.

Gerritsen and Braver don't pull any punches when they introduce Taryn. We learn immediately that she has no compunction about entering her ex-boyfriend Liam's apartment using the key she never returned. She snoops around, and there is something disturbing about her inability or refusal to admit that their relationship is over, perhaps because Liam is the second man in Taryn's life to betray her. Plus, Taryn and Liam have been together through high school and almost four years of college. It had been understood that they would have a life together. Taryn had been counting on it, and Liam has betrayed her.

Now Taryn is dead. Her body fell five stories to the concrete pavement below her apartment on a cold and windy night. Her cell phone is nowhere to be found, and if not for that strange fact, the detectives would have labeled her death a suicide without a second thought. But Frankie, the mother of two teenagers, knows how important their phones are to them. Where is Taryn's phone? Why is it not in the apartment or broken into pieces on the pavement? As overworked as Frankie is, she is determined to find out what really happened to Taryn and get justice for her.

Everyone in CHOOSE ME has their flaws, some of which are immediately more apparent than others. Jack is a sympathetic character until we see his fatal flaw. His marriage is strained by his physician wife's horribly long working hours. It leaves them little time together, and although they have wanted children, her most recent miscarriage has been emotionally devastating for them. So when the young and beautiful Taryn throws herself at Jack, we can understand why temptation rears its ugly head. But we cannot forgive him for going through with the infidelity.

Taryn is not a very sympathetic character as we watch her clever, dispassionate ability to use those around her. Her lifelong insecurity being from the wrong side of the tracks isn't enough to overcome our repugnance at her behavior, desire for revenge, selfishness and complete narcissism.

Then there's Frankie. She just plods along, never taking a vacation, always worrying about her daughters and their nights out, wanting to do the right thing for Taryn. Other characters may have had a reason to want Taryn dead. What about Cody, the unattractive friend of Taryn who would do anything for her. But at what cost? We may not like any of the main players, but we can admire them and pity them for their faults. Most of all, we want to know what really happened to Taryn.

This solid mystery forces us to consider not just the significance and validity of the #MeToo movement but also the aftermath of such an affair. What about vengeance? What is justice? Is Jack as bad as others who might use positions of power for sexual conquests? Does it ultimately matter? And what about forgiveness? Can the characters here forgive others for acts of betrayal? These kinds of questions and reflections make us better individuals. How much should forgiveness play a role in our lives? What would we have done if we were in the same situation as those in CHOOSE ME?

Reviewed by Pamela Kramer on July 2, 2021

Choose Me
by Tess Gerritsen and Gary Braver

  • Publication Date: July 1, 2021
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 334 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
  • ISBN-10: 1542026156
  • ISBN-13: 9781542026154