This is one of those murder mysteries where revelations are always in italics (e.g. “Gray areas didn’t even exist for Gus Salvo,” “I’m just feeling manipulated.”) Unger’s first novel concerns child trafficking, parental responsibility, and how mature adults don’t necessarily know who they really are.
Ridley Jones (named after director Ridley Scott) is a 30-something New York freelancer who discovers that her loving suburban parents might not be her real ones. This sends her on a frantic quest through lies to find her true identity. Love and violence ensue. Ridley is tough but cries a lot; good and bad men say they’re very sorry, or not.
Too often, Unger resorts to rhetorical questions to make ”cellular” contact with readers — “We’re all so lost, aren’t we?” “The New York city subway system is pretty mythic, don’t you agree?” Totally. She also loves pop psychology and moralizing — “Loneliness is a condition, an illness,” “In life, there are only good and bad choices.” Unger’s maudlin bestseller is at best transatlantic reading. But hey, someone’s got to distract you from exploding gel caps.