Breathing Lessons Disguised as a Mystery: Reading Tara Laskowski’s One Night Gone
Author: Tara Laskowski
Graydon Press, 2019
Review by Kate Anderson
Everyone dreams, at one time or another, of walking away and starting over, but doing so rarely includes getting sucked into the decades-old case of a missing girl, which is exactly what happens in Tara Laskowski’s One Night Gone.
The seaside town of Opal Beach is the perfect place for Allison Simpson to get away, to start fresh, to forget. Her sister Annie has offered her the opportunity she so desperately needs: a housesitting job in a palatial beach house in an affluent community where she can reinvent herself after the very messy, very public dissolution of her marriage.
As a weather girl Allison is used to being recognized, but now she’s desperate to get away from everyone who was a witness to her breakdown and the Jersey Shore is just the place for her to hit reset and blend in. That is until a barista at the local coffee shop mistakes her for someone else, someone named Maureen. Allison’s curiosity gets the better of her and she asks Tammy—between cups of coffee- about the girl from the traveling carnival.
Tammy is convinced that Maureen, the free-spirited girl who crashed on her floor thirty years ago, didn’t just pick up and leave. In fact, Tammy doesn’t believe Maureen left at all. The more Tammy reveals about Maureen and her romantic entanglements, the more Allison is inclined to agree– there is far more to Maureen’s disappearance than anyone in town is willing to admit and Allison is determined to find out what really happened. As Allison digs into Tammy and Maureen’s past, she gets under everyone’s skin, including someone who has intimate knowledge of Maureen’s whereabouts.
Moving seamlessly between the story of Maureen’s ill-fated coming of age and Allison’s fresh start, Tara Laskowski’s One Night Gone moves at the speed of a freight train through both women’s lives, connecting invisible dots until Allison finds herself face to face with another woman’s fate. On the surface this book is a mystery, but at its heart, it is a story about two very different women trying to find their place in the world while navigating the muddy waters of heartbreak and adultery.
Much like the carnival that brought Maureen to Opal Beach, this book is a rollercoaster ride, crashing through Maureen’s rootless existence and slamming into Allison’s reality as she rises from the ashes of her marriage and attempts to solve a mystery that hangs over her wealthy neighbors. One Night Gone grabs hold and doesn’t let go until the final page when you finally realize you were holding your breath the whole time.
SFWP social media coordinator and contributing editor Katherine Anderson is the award-winning author of two historic mysteries, Hospital Hill and Shadows in the Ward, as well as numerous nonfiction volumes on the history of institutions. She is a full-time special education teacher, professional photographer, and history junky. Her latest book, The State Schools of Massachusetts, was recently released and is available wherever books are sold. Follow her on Twitter and check out her website.