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The One I Left Behind

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  8,404 ratings  ·  981 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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46th out of 407 books — 963 voters
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94th out of 146 books — 474 voters

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Community Reviews

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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
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
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
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
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
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
Paula  Phillips
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
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
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
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)

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
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. :)
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.
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
Diane S.
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
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!
I love Jennifer McMahon's novels - they are always creepy and original! I loved her newest and couldn't put it down!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Originally Reviewed At: Mother/Gamer/Writer
Rating: 5 out of 5 Controllers, Crown Rating
Review Source: ARC From Publisher
Reviewer: AimeeKay

I truly enjoyed McMahon’s The One I Left Behind. I haven’t read a serial killer suspense novel in a really long time. Not really sure why, I used to read them all the time. I guess maybe I read them so much they began to lose their appeal? I also think it’s because I’d read so many more often than not, I was able to figure out how the book was going to end bef
Janie Johnson
This is one of your classic ‘serial killer’ novels. It has a ton of twists and turns that will keep the pages turning endlessly. I could hardly put the book down. I found myself gasping many times while reading this, IMO, masterpiece of modern mystery. I was swept away by the unpredictable plot, always trying to guess what was to happen next, catching myself trying to jump ahead to see what was coming.

The Author did not just splat answers all over the place. It gave you a chance to start questio
I was so excited to read this one because I LOVED Don't Breathe a Word by this author, but this one was very disappointing. When Reggie was 13 a serial killer called Neptune begins abducting women leaving their severed hand on the police department steps then killing the woman 4 days later leaving their body out in a prominent place in town. Reggie's mother is the 4th victim and the only one who's body was never found. Now, twenty five years later Reggie gets a call from her aunt that her mother ...more
Maybe I got spoiled with "Gone Girl," but the level of suspense here was no match. In 1985, a serial killer nicknamed Neptune took several victims. He would cut off their hand, and leave their body somewhere around town. Police were unable to find him. Reggie's mom, Vera, disappeared in 1985, and police found her hand, but not her body. Reggie grew up, tried to adjust to life without her mother, and found success as an architect. But 25 years later, her mom randomly shows up, emotionally disraug ...more
Although McMahon is an excellent author, I found this book very difficult to finish. I figured out who the murderer was at the beginning of the book, but I often do that in a mystery; therefore, that didn't make the book less exciting for me. However, other readers might find it disconcerting to figure out who the killer is so early in the book.

I had difficulty relating to any of the characters in the book or getting involved in the "investigation." This was what made the book feel so flat. I c
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I missed something... (minor spoiler and question) 3 63 Aug 06, 2013 11:51AM  
Bookworm Buddies: The One I Left Behind - Jennifer McMahon (Feb 5th)-DONE 64 55 Feb 09, 2013 10:35PM  
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I'm the author of Promise Not to Tell, Island of Lost Girls, Dismantled, Don't Breathe a Word, and The One I Left Behind. My next novel, The Winter People will be released February 11, 2014. I live in central Vermont with my partner and daughter, in an old Victorian that some neighbors call The Addams Family house.
More about Jennifer McMahon...
The Winter People Promise Not to Tell Don't Breathe a Word Island of Lost Girls Dismantled

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“Sometimes I wonder if you remember things the way they really were.” 4 likes
“All great heroes have a flaw. It's one of the things that makes them heroes.” 3 likes
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