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Anne Lovett
Things Left Undone
Anne Lovett, author

Adult; Mystery/Thriller; (Market)

Liberty Chase is terrified. Fleeing her husband’s abuse and needing Father Sam’s counsel, the drama teacher finds him dead. Fearing a murderer is nearby, she escapes to her grandparents in Florida with her disabled daughter. When the death is ruled “by natural causes,” Liberty’s floored. It wasn’t so, and she’s desperate to prove it. Even if it means going back to her repentant husband. When a quirky PI agrees to help, Liberty’s determined to find the fiend who killed their friend, while fighting her attraction to the sympathetic PI. To save the church, and possibly more lives, can Liberty use her acting skills to navigate an investigation’s choppy waters without her husband—or the murderer--finding out?
Lovett (author of The River Nymph and more) again demonstrates her expertise in blending suspense with examinations of fraught relationships to this Georgia-Florida mystery of murder, abuse, an unfinished manuscript—and a woman trying to pick up the pieces of her life as a mom, wife, and friend. When Liberty’s alcoholic husband comes home the night before Thanksgiving and forgets to bring home a turkey, it’s the last straw for her—no more excuses, no more staying with him for the sake of their special needs daughter, Emmy. She tells Dallas, her husband, she’s leaving, and after he gives her a shiner on her eye, she and Emmy hit the road. Upset and exhausted, she seeks advice from her friend, Sam, a preacher at the church. But at his home, she faces another jolt: Sam is dead.

Lovett’s twisty plotting and brisk storytelling will keep readers on their toes, as Liberty now must add another item to her long list of challenges—find out who murdered Sam, while taking care of Emmy, determining what her next steps are in life, and trying to decide if she can trust and forgive Dallas. As she digs for the truth, she uncovers secrets, lies, violence, and genuine surprises that upend all expectations. Throughout, writing in swift but feeling-packed prose, Lovett demonstrates canny understanding of the moment-to-moment choices a woman like Liberty faces, the thriller elements never diminishing the tragic reality of abuse.

Lovett has made a name writing stories through the eyes of strong, complex female characters, something still too rare in this genre. A believable darkness lingers throughout, but Liberty’s strength and heart lighten it. Readers will cheer on Liberty as she makes hard decisions to figure out her own life’s path and what cut short her dear friend’s—who it turns out, she barely knew at all. Loves of emotionally-driven mysteries will find much to enjoy here.

Takeaway: Swift, emotional mystery of murder, abuse, and a woman finding her path.

Comparable Titles: Kimberly Belle’s Dear Wife, Rowan Coleman’s The Runaway Wife.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A