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Askew Review 15

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WHAT SHE LEFT by T.R. Richmond. (Simon & Schuster). 2015. Fiction. 324 pages. Alice Salmon, a beautiful and wonderful young woman on the fast track to success, is found dead. The media goes wild with sensationalism. Alice’s Mom finds herself traveling down a dark path, again. Friends don’t understand. Alice’s ex-boyfriend is devastated. An underachieving aging university professor dives into the case head first in the hopes of publishing a book. And of course the Internet trolls. What happened to Alice Salmon?
            The mystery, suspense, and intrigue read in What She Left will keep you on your toes, but makes covering this book a bit tricky without giving away any of the good stuff. So please pardon the pedestrian synopsis. The story of Alice Salmon is told through news articles, letters, interviews, social media posts, and diary/journal entries. Music play lists are also included, but since Alice’s taste in music suuuucks I shan’t comment. When I started reading this book I was a tad skeptical at how the book would flow due to the nature of the storytelling. However, that skepticism soon went the way of Elvis. It feels like you, the reader, is actually pulling all this stuff together yourself. You’re suddenly an archivist! The reader must pay attention to the words because more than once a short sentence or few words here is referenced there and it is mind blowing. No scanning or skipping, dipshyts! I was at the point where I could not read What She Left before bed because it fired me up and kept me turning pages instead of catching zzzzzs. Its author, T.R. Richmond, is British and there are many cases of UK vernacular, which sent me to the dictionary…often. I learnt new fancy words! Richmond’s great character development had me smitten with Alice and absolutely wanting to punch another character, who shall remain nameless, dead in the snout. I really enjoyed What She Left and since it’s been translated into a dozen or so languages, I’m not the only one. – Denis Sheehan


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