What’s Become of Her: Reviews « Deb Caletti
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What’s Become of Her: Reviews

★ “National Book Award finalist Caletti (He’s Gone) elevates reader discomfort to the maximum in this nuanced suspense novel. Compassionate, kindhearted Isabelle Austen is still processing several significant life changes—the death of her difficult mother; leaving her editorial job at a small press to assume ownership of her mother’s charter airline business on Parrish Island, Wash.; and the end of her marriage—when Henry North, a professor on sabbatical from Boston University, arrives on the island. Despite internal and external warning bells and potential omens of danger, Isabelle responds to the narcissistic Henry’s romantic overtures. Meanwhile, across the Pacific, the mysterious Professor M. Weary divides his time between studying the habits of New Caledonia crows and monitoring Henry. Warnings Isabelle receives from Dr. Weary cause her to wonder about Henry, whose first wife died in an accident and whose second wife has gone missing. The plot builds to a surprising and well-developed conclusion.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“When charismatic, brooding aspiring poet and Edgar Allan Poe aficionado Henry North arrives on Parrish Island, Isabelle Austen is smitten. But Henry comes bearing secrets that may spell Isabelle’s death.

Having left her job in publishing in Seattle following a divorce and her mother’s death, Isabelle has returned to Parrish to sort through her late mother’s effects and take over her small airline business. Once Henry arrives, though, she’s swept up in a whirlwind romance. Much as she adores Henry, doubts begin to nibble, particularly after he convinces her to sell her mother’s house and move in with him. Moving day brings Officer Ricky Beaker to their door. He’s been tipped off that Henry’s past includes two missing women: Virginia, his former fiancee, suspiciously fell to her death while hiking with Henry, and Sarah, his missing and presumed-dead wife, strangely disappeared on a boating trip after an argument. Although cleared in both cases, Henry has not escaped suspicion. Luckily, Isabelle learned from her abusive mother how to protect herself from predators, how to distract and placate them. Meanwhile, practically on the other side of the globe, a professor Weary runs the New Caledonia Corvus Research Facility and Sanctuary. But Weary isn’t just studying the habits of crows. He’s monitoring Henry’s every move, studying Visa statements and photos posted online. Alarmed that Henry is seducing new prey, Weary makes contact, sending Isabelle incriminating evidence of Henry’s crimes. Caletti (Essential Maps for the Lost, 2016, etc.) masterfully links Isabelle’s and Weary’s growing anxiety, ratcheting up tension through dark imagery and sentences that twine and twist as they explore Isabelle’s psychological cage. In Caletti’s capable hands, Poe’s raven metamorphoses into murders of crows, foreshadowing not only the mayhem Henry brings to Parrish Island, but also the vengeance being wrought from New Caledonia.

A darkly enchanting romance sinks into a thrilling cat-and-mouse game.”
Kirkus Reviews

★ “This is a lush, suspenseful read set in a sleepy seaside town, with both main characters using the locale (and each other) as a means to escape. Caletti’s strengths are all on display: the novel is carefully paced, the prose excellent, and the characters (and their ghosts and demons) are realistic and strikingly drawn. Each person’s motivations and reliability as narrator are weighed and considered over the course of the novel, with expectations upended and reevaluated constantly. The build to the climax is relentless, tense, and satisfying.

When Henry North arrives at Parrish Island, Isabelle Austen’s life is set to change forever. Isabelle is seeking to escape her troubled childhood, her recent divorce, and even the ghost of her late mother, whose voice seems to haunt her. Henry North, too, is trying to escape his own darkness and demons. However, both of them soon learn that one can’t run away from trouble, and that secrets have a way of coming out. As Isabelle begins to question her judgment and her heart, she finds herself caught between passion and a dreadful truth.”
RT Magazine (Top Pick)

“After her mother’s death, Isabelle Austen returns to her birthplace off the coast of Washington State to run the family’s airline business. Recently divorced and ambivalent about a future on the island, she quickly enters into a relationship with Henry North, an outsider with a questionable past: both his former fiancée and his wife died under suspicious circumstances. Loyal at first, Isabelle becomes increasingly suspicious as packages begin arriving from around the globe, each containing items belonging to the dead women. Unbeknownst to her, Professor M. Weary is watching both Henry and Isabelle online in what he describes as a selfless attempt to prevent another woman’s death. But who is Weary, and what is the source of his obsession with Henry’s dead wife? In her latest, prolific National Book Award finalist Caletti (The Secrets She Keeps, 2015) deftly builds tension through alternating chapters narrated by Isabelle and Weary in this well-told tale. Is Henry North a murderer? Does Weary have Isabelle’s best interests at heart? As Caletti combines literary fiction with suspense, she keeps readers guessing until the last page”
Booklist