Miss Me When I’m Gone by Emily Arsenault

Title: Miss Me When I’m Gone
Author: Emily Arsenault

Genre: Fiction (Contemporary / Writers / Murder Mystery / New England
Publisher/Publication Date: William Morrow Paperbacks (7/31/2012)
Source: TLC Book Tours

Rating: Liked.
Did I finish?: Yep, in one, can't-stop day
One-sentence summary: Pregnant Jamie investigates her best friend's mysterious death and work-in-progress, a memoir about murder, family, and country music.

Do I like the cover?: It's pretty, but I don't think it totally captures the feel of the story.

First line: This gem might be well known among seventies tabloid readers and longtime country music fans, but perhaps not the general reader: Tammy Wynette once saved Burt Reynolds from drowning in a bubble bath.

Do... I wish Tammyland was a real book?: While I'm never going to read Eat Pray Love, the excerpts from the fictitious Tammyland -- a honky-tonk Eat Pray Love, of sorts, featuring female country music stars --were wonderfully enjoyable.

Does... Emily Arsenault sound like an awesome person?: YES. Her author bio had me howling.

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid?: Borrow or buy -- this is a fast, fun, comfy thriller.

Why did I get this book?: Who doesn't like a good thriller for the summer?

Review: I could get embroiled in recapping this, so I'm going to try to be brief. Jamie, seven-months pregnant, is named unofficial literary executor when her friend Gretchen dies from a suspicious fall after a reading. Gretchen penned Tammyland -- a honky-tonk Eat Pray Love, of sorts, featuring female country music stars -- and was working on a sequel, ostensibly featuring male country music stars. Quickly Jamie learns, however, that Gretchen was actually pursuing her own past: her mother's murder and her biological father, unknown to her.

Originally, I thought this would be straight up, literary-ish thriller, but the story isn't so much about racing to see who murdered Gretchen (if she was murdered) than seeking the answers the the questions Gretchen was asking. Gretchen's mother was murdered at 24, when Gretchen was 7; her mother's then-boyfriend was implicated, but ultimately not jailed. Somewhere was Gretchen's biological father. Gretchen's nascent second book -- already overdue to her publishers -- was wildly off course, and Jamie's challenge was to see if there was anything already written that could be submitted. Jamie's interest, however, veered along with Gretchen's, and the novel happily follows that thread.

Jamie, our pregnant heroine, was pretty fun -- I liked how irreverent she was. Bratty at times, tired, cranky, passive aggressive and just plain stubborn. At moments, I found myself rolling my eyes; at other times, I was cheering her. She felt good and real and I enjoyed her amateur investigation.

There's a low stress tension to the story, which I liked, as high tension novels can sometimes kill me. Not slow, though -- there's plenty of twists and hints and red-herrings -- but I wasn't kept up all night racing through the book. (I did spend all day reading this, taking it into the bathroom with me at work so I could sneak a read now and then!) My favorite part of this book, however, was the Tammyland bits. While I didn't like Gretchen necessarily, I liked her writing (or at least, Arsenault-writing-as-Gretchen).

A solid mystery thriller for the summer with a very New England-y in feel (not bucolic Concord New England but gritty working class New Hampshire New England) should you want an unusual armchair escape.

*** *** ***

GIVEAWAY!

I'm thrilled to offer one lucky reader a copy of Miss Me When I'm Gone. To enter, fill out this brief form. Open to US/Canadian readers, ends 8/17.


Comments

  1. Wow. A pregnant heroine? Sounds awesome!

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    1. I know, right? It shaped the story -- both in obvious ways -- and less obvious ways, and provided this lovely them of motherhood/parenthood that echoed in Gretchen's story as well.

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  2. This sounds fascinating, and I'm intrigued by this mention in your review: "literary executor"

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    Replies
    1. One, it's my dream to be a literary executor someday, although I suppose that means someone I like needs to die with books unpublished, so maybe I don't...anyway, it was interesting -- it provided our heroine an entree into the story without her merely being nosy.

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  3. I'm about half way through and not sure what I think yet, so I'll come back to read your review when I'm done.

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    Replies
    1. Oooh, can't wait to see your review then!

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  4. This does sound like a lot of fun, and also like it has some really nice meaty parts too! I am glad that you liked it and that you gave it such high marks. This is a book I am planning on reading soon. Thanks for the fantastic and fun review today, Audra!

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    Replies
    1. Enjoy -- such fun. I can't wait to see what you think of it!

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  5. Her other books are great so glad to hear this one is good too.

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    Replies
    1. I absolutely want to read her other two books now!

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  6. Sounds like great fun! Maybe the author should write Tammyland next! ;)

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  7. I really enjoyed this one too. It was such a great vacation read: I read most of it by the pool alternating reading a chapter and swimming a lap. I'm eager to read her other two novels now too!

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  8. Woo, I've been dying to read this one since I first heard about it! I love mysteries, drama, and country music!

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  9. Thanks for the giveaway. This looks like a good read.

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  10. This sounds like a good, cozy read. You read it in one day? When I do that it means I was totally engrossed. And I do like the idea of a pregnant protagonist (the Tammy Wynette angle is appealing, too)...

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  11. This actually sounds pretty fun. Glad to see you enjoyed it.

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  12. I love the idea of a pregnant narrator - there's so much you can do with that!

    Thanks for being on the tour.

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  13. Love the sound of this one; glad u liked it.

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  14. I love murder mysteries. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  15. There's suich a low stress tension to this story I couldn't bear it! But, I'm glad to read your thoughts as you are much more appreciative of this novel; you read it one day, I read it in one week. Maybe it was just bad timing on my part. However, I do agree that the Tammyland parts were wonderful. For me, they were the best part of the book. As to Eat Pray Love? I certainly wouldn't bother with that. That's a book I didn't even finish!

    (Goodness, who sounds like Negatron Nelly here?!)

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  16. I was the winner of this book. I read it but forgot to come back here with my review until now.

    Unfortunately for the reader, the chapters in this book that are supposed to be exerpts from the mysteriously dead Gretchen's already-published book seem useless as more than padding. I suppose they could be meant to show Gretchen's obsession with Tammy Wynette. Maybe Gretchen thought her biological mother Shelly felt the same type of pain in her life, or maybe some songs reflected Gretchen's own life. I never did figure out the author's purpose. Whatever her reason for including these excerpts, they interrupted the story.

    I found the first half of MISS ME WHEN I'M GONE a little too "cozy mysteryish," too simple, too easy reading. It gets better later. But I still had a problem: its reading level seemed a little too young adult. Even the book's cover looks YA. But it's not a YA book; no character in this book is under 30.

    I thank Audra of Unabridged Chick (www.unabridgedchick.com) for this book giveaway

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