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The One I Left Behind

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  9,641 Ratings  ·  1,069 Reviews
Bestselling author Jennifer McMahon is back with a gut-wrenching mystery about an architect whose troubled mother has been found 25 years after being kidnapped-by a killer who is still on the loose.

The summer of 1985 changed Reggie's life. Thirteen, awkward, and without a father, she finds herself mixed up with her school's outcasts-Charlie, the local detective's son, and
Paperback, 422 pages
Published January 2nd 2013 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published January 1st 2013)
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Female Psychological Thrillers/Suspense
63rd out of 502 books — 1,398 voters
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93rd out of 145 books — 473 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sep 17, 2013 Robert rated it really liked it
Fate has a funny way of intervening in my life, and if it wasn’t for fate, I probably wouldn’t have ended up with an Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) of THE ONE I LEFT BEHIND. I attended Bouchercon at the beginning of this month (October 2012), and on Friday, several authors were signing advanced copies of their latest novels, or copies of their just released novels. Out of curiosity more than anything else, since I’d never heard of Jennifer McMahon, I made my way to the hospitality suite, stood in ...more
Feb 11, 2013 Nancy rated it really liked it
I read another book by McMahon a couple of years ago and was unimpressed with the story. This time around I found a strong plot and story along with strong writing.

The point of view toggles between present day-ish Reggie and childhood Reggie. I believe the book begins with 39 year old Reggie getting the call that her mother had finally been found. This was news long overdue as her mother was abducted 25 years ago by a quirky serial killer. Except her mother is alive but dying of a cancer. She d
Check out this review and others like it at BadAssBookReviews

3.5 Stars but I am rounding up. This book had me guessing and uncomfortable (in that delicious way only books can do to you) from the very beginning. The story of a serial killer's murders during the summer of 1985 creates a backdrop for this book. The One I Left Behind is told from “Reggie’s” (Regina)’s first person point of view. During the course of the story, the reader meets two Reggies: Reggie as a 13 year old girl in 1985 (by
Jan 29, 2013 Michelle rated it did not like it
SPOILER ALERT: I can't believe all the 4 and 5 star reviews. Up to the last couple of chapters, I might have given this 3 stars because the plot was interesting, if at times mildly annoying (80s dialogue full of anachronisms,the main character is completely self-centered). But the ending was so bad, it ruined the rest of the book for me. A surprise ending that's still plausible is the hallmark of a skilled mystery writer, which I'm afraid, Ms. McMahon is not, unless her other books are much bett ...more
Dec 23, 2012 Cheryl rated it it was amazing
The year is 1985. It is the year that Reggie will never forget. This is the time when Reggie should be enjoying being a teenager, hanging with her friends, and crushing on a boy. Instead, it is masked with a serial killer named Neptune. Neptune kidnaps women. He cuts off their hand and leaves it in a milk carton on the police steps. Five days later, he disposes of their body.

Reggie sees her mom get into a car and knows it will be the last time she will she her. Yep, Vera is Neptune’s last victi
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Aug 21, 2013 Kelly (and the Book Boar) rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2013
I’m not a real great reviewer to begin with, but I feel I add some extra suckage to my reviews of thrillers. I’m always afraid if I say ANYTHING, it will end up being a clue that gives it all away.

The One I Left Behind is the story of Reggie, whose mother was taken by a serial killer 25 years ago. The assumption has always been that Reggie’s mother was dead and the body just wasn’t discovered. That is, until she shows up at a homeless shelter. Now Reggie must confront all of the ghosts of her pa
Nov 29, 2015 ☮Karen rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
I was loving this book, couldn't put it down, up until the relationship between Reggie and Tara and some of their actions just got weird. The big reveal of who the serial killer was and how that played out was unexpected but a bit disappointing.

The author said this is ultimately about family, which I guess is true, albeit some very dysfunctional families. 2.5 - 3 stars.
Paula  Phillips
Sep 07, 2012 Paula Phillips rated it it was amazing
WOW , this was one of those books that you sit and read and when you have finished you are like OMG , it's over and I want more . The One I Left Behind was a WOWZA novel. The novel starts in 1985 with an excerpt of a murder case - a serial killer nicknamed Neptune. A serial killer who kidnapped women and cut off their right hands , sent them to the police and in four days they were strangled , set naked in a public place for the world to see them. Three women killed , the police etc are still st ...more
Feb 23, 2013 Stephanie rated it liked it
Hmmm, If I had been asked to rate this book halfway through, I think I would have given it 4 stars, and asked at the conclusion, maybe 2 or 3, so I settled on 3 stars since my first impressions had been so good. This novel is yet another to follow the dual, concurrent narrative style, which can work really well, and does here. One narrative is Regina Dufrane at 13 years old, facing her teenaged troubles of unrequited love, self-mutilation, her unusual family life and the kidnapping of her often ...more
I want to give McMahon an "Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Characterization" prize for her architect character who thinks like an architect for the entire book. Lots of professional gambler main characters use poker metaphor for the first half then mysteriously stop. Reggie is an architect throughout, and one never doubts she's a good one.

Architecture's impact the way she thinks keeps being important throughout the book. That's one of many factors in the well-designed feel of this thoug
May 06, 2013 Bandit rated it really liked it
I think if you read enough books by the same author, particularly within a reasonably short amount of time, you start to see a formula. McMahon certainly has one. She alternates timelines, secrets of the past come back to haunt the present, that sort of thing. She happens to be very good at it and the quality of her work is fairly consistent too. Mystery is not my favorite genre, but that's mostly because most mysteries tend to be cliched detective stories with tough macho guys or tough streetwi ...more
I have been a fan of McMahon’s for a few years now, and she never ceases impressing me. Her writing talents are unique in that each book she adds to her canon gets better and better. It makes waiting for the latest volume quite frustrating! Her latest is no exception - I read it in one sitting! It is literally impossible to put down!

While some of her other novels tend towards the more literary mystery, this book feels more like a thriller/mystery with a serial killer dubbed Neptune at the heart
Oct 07, 2014 Carol rated it liked it
A good mystery-thriller based on true events of unsolved slayings in Brighton Falls, Connecticut in 1985. I am not fond of books that switch back and forth every other chapter from past to present day, however, I would have rated it 3.5 stars if possible. Author provides excerpts of the true story throughout the book. (Did not guess the murderer)

Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~

This has to be McMahon's best book YET!
It totally held me captive from the first page.
One of the best books I have ever read that went back and forth from present day to the past smoothly. I very much enjoyed this book. I hope to read more from McMahon like this. :)
Mar 11, 2015 anionce rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psych-thriller
Me ha gustado muchísimo. Ni siquiera me ha importado que la identidad de Neptuno fuera tan obvia. Uno de mis favoritos últimamente, la protagonista me ha recordado un poco a la de Sharp Objects.
Jan 04, 2013 Patty rated it really liked it
The One I Left Behind
Jennifer McMahon

My " in a nutshell" summary...

Serial killer...bodies without hands...a young girl's mother vanishes...her hand appears but not her body...then the killings suddenly stop for years...the mother returns and the killer seems to reappear.

My thoughts after reading this book...

This book starts out rather creepy...and alternates between the real story of this serial killer named Neptune and what happened 25 years ago...victims were taken and their hands were foun
Jan 20, 2013 Kristen rated it it was ok
Let me start by saying that this book, which I am listening to on audible, is suspenseful and engaging. At the heart of it is Reggie, a woman whose mother was apparently thought to be the final victim of serial killer "Neptune" - except they never found her body, only her severed right hand, placed on the steps of the police station like the other women who had been taken and killed before her. Fast forward 25 years, and Reggie gets an amazing call: her mother has been found alive in a homeless ...more
Jessica McCann
Apr 24, 2015 Jessica McCann rated it liked it
This was a quick, entertaining read. Not overly gruesome, despite the fact that it centered on a serial killer. The book jacket described it as literary suspense, and I agree with that description, though I had never heard of the genre before this. While the story moves along at a brisk pace, the author also takes time for fairly detailed character development and layers in multiple literary/symbolic themes, which I appreciated. There were a few aspects I found hard to believe and characters' ac ...more
Diane S ☔
Sep 17, 2012 Diane S ☔ rated it liked it
3.5 I love how this author always writes such different novels, no two the same but all featuring a girl's face on the cover. This one is a combination of genres as most of hers are. This can be read as a coming of age story, a suspense/serial killer story and a novel about the friendships one makes when they are young and the effect they have on our lives. It also explores mother daughter relationships as well as the damage done by keeping secrets. This is a well done novel, alternating chapter ...more
Apr 07, 2014 Rick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My first Jennifer McMahon but on the basis of this, it won't be my last. She combines a gripping thriller/mystery with a powerful coming-of-age story and even throws in some universal truths about family. This was superbly crafted and an absorbing read. Highly recommended!
Feb 18, 2013 Laura rated it it was amazing
Wow! Aamazing book!
1985 changes Reggie forever. This book is very suspenseful and I could not wait to find out who Neptune was... The last 100 pages or so I was literally on the edge of my seat! I recommend this book!
Aug 16, 2012 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Jennifer McMahon's novels - they are always creepy and original! I loved her newest and couldn't put it down!
I so wanted to love this book, I truly enjoyed other books by McMahon but this one just kind of fell flat. I think a lot was because I really didn’t like Reggie or the way she treated people, yes I know her mother disappeared at a very formative age for her, but she didn’t ever seem to be able to tell when people were being nice or really trying to help her out. And the way she treated her aunt just made me mad.

There was just too many coincidences and the different timelines did get a little con
This was the third book I've read by this author, and I've got to say I really like her work. Yes, there are a lot of similarities between the books in terms of plot and setting, but despite this she always manages to keep me guessing until the end. Additionally, there are some really suspenseful scenes where I can feel my heart racing as I read and I try to stop myself from skipping ahead to see what will happen. And on top of that, I really love some of the thoughts in the book on the human co ...more
Feb 26, 2013 Christa rated it it was amazing
I had been on the library's hold list for this book since it was on pre-order, and thankfully, it didn't disappoint.

I'm usually not a mystery fan, but for some reason, Jennifer McMahon's books really appeal to me--maybe because they're more character-driven than a lot of the genre. She did a great job this time creating such a tangled web of characters with all kinds of layers of secrets woven in there.

One of the biggest strengths of this book, I think, was the supporting characters. All of the
Feb 04, 2013 Naomi rated it it was ok
Read my full review @

My rating: 1.5 Stars

My opinion: Being a huge fan of Jennifer McMahon's, I was all over this book when I saw it was being released. I must admit that I was disappointed with this novel. In the previous novels I have read by her, the books have had a uniqueness and a twistedness of reality that leaves the reader scratching his/her head as to the interpretation of the ending. In one of her books, I still get into debates with other readers as to the meaning
Jun 25, 2013 Rachel rated it really liked it
This novel is about a serial killer named Neptune who cuts off the right hand of his victims before killing them days later. Reggie, our heroine was 13 years old when her mother Vera was taken by Neptune. However, only Vera's hand was recovered and the case went cold. Twenty-five years later Reggie finds out Vera has been found alive but is unable to assist with the investigation due to problems with her memory. Reggie returns home to help take care of her mother and realizes it's up to her to f ...more
Dec 22, 2012 Mark rated it it was amazing
If it was possible to give more than five stars on a review this book deserves it.
In a typical small American town a silent killer stalks the streets kidnapping, maiming and killing five women and disappearing until twenty years later when suddenly it starts all over again. Is it a copy-cat killer or has the murderer the police dubbed Neptune come out of hiding one last time?
For young Reggie, just thirteen when her mother disappeared, life holds more questions than answers. Whereas the severed r
Jan 08, 2013 S.C. rated it it was amazing
Before I begin this review, I wish to extend a personal caveat to potential readers:

Do not crack open the cover of this book unless you intend to drop everything until you finish it.

“The One I Left Behind” is an addictive, enthralling, and deeply satisfying read, and fans of author Jennifer McMahon’s previous novels as well as newcomers to her work who love suspense will fall head-over-heels for this latest mystery/thriller.

In novels, long buried secrets always have a way of bringing their ke
Apr 25, 2013 Stephanie rated it liked it
I have thoroughly enjoyed Jennifer McMahon's other stories so much that I was thrilled to discover her latest novel. But, my excitement went flat toward the end.

I love how this author usually tells the stories in her books with a chapter of current time and then a flashback chapter as the characters are children. I've also always loved that her books always so normal like a memoir of some sorts. Then you're hit with some kind of supernatural element that makes you doubt the reality of the book
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I missed something... (minor spoiler and question) 3 70 Aug 06, 2013 11:51AM  
Bookworm Buddies: The One I Left Behind - Jennifer McMahon (Feb 5th)-DONE 64 56 Feb 09, 2013 10:35PM  
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I'm the author of seven suspense novels, including Promise Not to Telll, The Winter People, and most recently, The Night Sister . I live in central Vermont with my partner and daughter, in an old Victorian that some neighbors call The Addams Family house.
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“You're facing your demons. You'll come out stronger.” 4 likes
“Sometimes I wonder if you remember things the way they really were.” 3 likes
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