Lisa Unger continues to produce one of the most varied collections of writings in the crime fiction genre. Each of her works – even when they are linked as part of the same series – stand alone in their uniqueness. Her novels never tell the same story twice and refuse to adhere to any standard structure, tone, or style; yet they all appeal to the same reader, linked by their consistently high level of quality and their ability to resolve in ways both surprising and completely satisfying. Confessions on the 7:45 is Lisa Unger’s most recent novel and the book is as unique as the title implies.
Almost certainly inspired by Strangers on a Train, Confessions on the 7:45 is not simply a regurgitation of past tropes and storylines. That said, the novel does begin with two strangers meeting on a train and their confessions to each other during that commute are most definitely the driving force which compels the action forward. Selena Murphy feels a sense of relief when she admits to this seductive stranger that her husband is having an affair with their nanny. Meanwhile, Martha shares how the burden of her sexual escapades have trapped her in a difficult situation. Both unduly influenced by the illicit relationships within their lives, these two women are like two ships passing in the night, sharing a moment, only to then return to their status quo. However, this brief exchange is going to alter the course of both their lives. Several days later, Selena’s nanny goes missing and the investigation threatens to expose everyone’s secrets.
One of the major themes of Confessions on the 7:45 is the idea that all humans wear masks; who we are is largely determined by what we want those around us to see, know, and think about us. But if we let that guard down for just a moment, allow the façade drop, what might that simple action set into motion, and what would be the outcome? Furthermore, is it possible to manipulate others through calculated actions designed to elicit a desired response?
Lisa Unger uses a kaleidoscope of voices to unspool this tangled web of deceit. Readers are given glimpses into the lives of these characters, become privy to important moments from their past, and watch as the ramifications of this brief exchange reverberate in unexpected ways. Lisa Unger’s methods of misdirection are likely to appear familiar to fans of psychological suspense, but her ultimate destination feels fresh and original. There are several real shocks among the revelations; these surprises, which will please genre fans, are strategically placed to grab the reader’s attention, and enhance the forward momentum of the narrative. Unlike the train where it all began, the journey of Confessions on the 7:45 is a twisted path full of dangerous swerves and dark detours ultimately arriving at a wholly unexpected destination.
Disclaimer: An e-galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.