What Remains

Stick with this twisted plot of Alison Gaylin’s for a rich payoff in her newest stand alone in psychological suspense, What Remains of Me.

Alternating between events of 1980 and 2010, she tells the story of Kelly Lund, a teen influenced by living in Hollywood and all that meant in the 80s. With the death of her twin sister two years before, Kelly is warned by her mother to stay away from “Hollywood types” but soon finds herself with an unlikely best friend: Bellamy Marshall, daughter of movie legend Sterling Marshall, who becomes her surrogate sister and introduces her to wild parties with drugs and movie stars. Later that year Kelly shoots and kills Ocsar-nominated powerhouse director John McFadden, best friend of Marshall, and spends the next 25 years in prison for it.

Fast forward to 2010 and Kelly has been out of prison for five years and is now the daughter-in-law of Sterling Marshall, after marrying his son, Bellamy’s younger brother, Shane, whilst in prison–but the two women are estranged. Living in the isolation of Joshua Tree, Shane and Kelly have formed an unlikely alliance that works for them at the moment–until Sterling Marshall is found dead in his office, shot in the same way John McFadden was, and she finds herself the prime suspect once again as the murderer of her husband’s father.

Gaylin spools out the story of both time periods, jumping back and forth as the story unfolds, giving just enough information from each era to ratchet up the tension until the twisted end. And just when you think you know what happened, think again, and then again. It’s a mix of unreliable narrators and people hiding secrets, but with more sympathetic characters than something like “Gone Girl.”

Readers will find themselves rooting for the unlikely heroine, murderess Kelly Lund, hoping she finds some kind of solace even as the truth of her life becomes revealed as Gaylin skillfully peels back the layers of the onion that is her life.

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