First published: 2012
The main character of this book is Claire Barnes. She is married and has two little girls, Hannah, who is four, and Leah, who is two. Her husband Greg travels a lot because of his work. Then the night he was supposed to return home, he doesn’t turn up. Claire is not concerned at first, thinking that he has been delayed. Yet, as hours pass and she checks with the airline, she learns that Greg hasn’t checked in. So encouraged by her mother, she calls the police.
From that moment on agony starts for Claire. The receptionist at the hotel where he was staying tells her that Greg checked in but his room hasn’t been stayed in. Claire doesn’t know whether he is in trouble, dead, or has gone of his own volition. Yet, she can’t reconcile the image of Greg with one of a family abandoner. He is a good father, and even though their marriage was going through a rough patch lately, she knows he wouldn’t abandon their two daughters like this.
Claire has the support of her parents and her friend Drew. The relationship between her and Drew is kind of bizarre. They have known each other since forever, and there has always been some flirtation between them, and they have been close to becoming lovers, but they have never done. In the flashbacks we understand that Drew was a problem for Claire’s marriage, and even though she didn’t acknowledge it at the time, we know that Greg felt threatened by Drew as he knew that he was in love with his wife.
Now Drew tries to support Claire, and they go to Rochester where Sam was supposed to have been. They talk to the people in the hotel and they tell her the same. Yet, when she notices a Thai restaurant, she knows that Greg was there because he liked Thai food and she didn’t. So when he was away, he used to opportunity to enjoy the food. Claire and Drew go there and the woman remembers Greg, and to Claire’s shock she tells her that he was with a woman. Now Claire is convinced that Greg was having an affair, and maybe that is why he left. But what she doesn’t understand is why he didn’t do the normal thing and ask for a divorce. Why should he leave his two daughters?
More lies come to her notice. The detective tells her that four trips that Greg took the previous year had nothing to do with his job, including the last one when he went missing. Two of them were in Rochester and the other two to San Diego. Claire also discovers that there is an account with a large sum of money, apparently his mother’s inheritance, but Greg never told her anything. Claire is getting more and more frustrated. In the flashbacks we get from her life with Greg, it is clear that Greg was not an easy man to live with, at least in the last months. He kept having dark moods and telling Claire that she was only wanting to change him and he only wanted to be the way he was. Claire even caught him flirting with Hannah’s friends’ mum.
Claire decide to take a holiday and go to San Diego. Her friend Sarah is there, intending for her to have a good time. Claire also wants to find out more about Greg, and they go to a hotel where they know he was. They are impressed by the luxurious hotel, and when Claire notices the golf balls and tees, she knows that Greg was here playing golf because he remembers a golf tee she saw once among his things. Claire is frustrated because she realises that she never knew her husband.
During the holiday she thinks she spots him with a woman and with her heart beating strongly within her chest, he rushes after the couple, but it is not Greg. This is a turning point when she realises that she hadn’t felt hopeful or nervous but very angry. So she decides that now her new life starts as she knows that even if he turned up, she wouldn’t take him back. That night she intends to have fun, and she and Sarah arrange to see some guys that they met the previous night, and Claire has a one-night stand with one of them.
Claire returns home, feeling more determined to enjoy her life with her little daughters. She hasn’t called Drew in ages as there has been some flirting and close calls between them, but now she calls him and is disappointed to learn that Drew is seeing someone. From then on she simply focuses on her life and her children. The detective comes once a month with his progress, but there is nothing much to tell her. Reynolds, the detective, thinks that Greg is likely to be dead because there has not been any sightings and nobody has called to say he has been seen. So this makes him think that he is dead. I wonder if his theory is right or he is alive and well. If he is dead, why and how did he die? Why was he in Rochester with a woman? And why didn’t he stay in the hotel? His death doesn’t explain those incongruities. If he is alive, then why hasn’t he contacted Claire or his daughters? Has he been away because of a woman or is it something else? Is he in some kind of trouble?