Don’t Look for Me by Wendy Walker is a psychological suspense novel that grabbed my attention at page one and held it for the remainder of the book. I feel like I say this in all my reviews, but this is my first book by Walker and I will definitely be checking out her others. I am so excited that I continue to uncover new authors and find new books that I really enjoy!
In Wendy Walker’s thrilling novel Don’t Look for Me, the greatest risk isn’t running away. It’s running out of time.
One night, Molly Clarke walked away from her life. She doesn’t want to be found. Or at least, that’s the story. The car abandoned miles from home. The note found at a nearby hotel. The shattered family that couldn’t be put back together. They called it a “walk away.” It happens all the time. Women disappear, desperate to leave their lives behind and start over. But is that what really happened to Molly Clarke?
Molly Clarke has suffered an unimaginable tragedy. One that she will never escape or stop seeing when she closes her eyes. It’s been five years since her youngest daughter, Annie, was killed in a tragic accident that rocked the Clarke family to its core. Many marriages do not survive the loss of a child and Molly is sure that’s where her and John are headed. Even worse, her two remaining children, Evan and Nicole, want nothing to do with her. Evan is away at boarding school and Nicole is drinking herself into oblivion.
Driving home one evening after attending her son’s football game, Molly runs out of gas just short of the gas station where she always stops. To make matters worse, there is a massive storm rolling in with gusting winds and torrential downpours. After realizing the gas station is shuttered due to the impending storm, she has no other choice but to start walking down a road she swore she never would, Hastings Pass. Something about this road makes Molly uneasy, but what other choice does she have?
As the rain gets heavier and the winds gust stronger Molly sees a truck heading towards the town. She throws her arms up in the air, waving desperately for help. Thankfully, the truck sees her, pulls over, and offers Molly a ride into Hastings. She’s hesitant, but there is a little girl inside the truck and Molly thinks what harm could there possibly be?
Soon after climbing inside, Molly suspects something is off. The little girl is very bold and asks a lot of questions, but the man sits quietly and occasionally glances at Molly in the rearview mirror. Upon arrival in Hastings, the man continues to drive past the town, including the inn. Molly questions the man, Mick, and he just says that everything has closed for the storm and she will have to stay with them for the night. At this point, Molly’s gut is telling her something is terribly wrong.
Eventually, the trio arrive at a run-down house where Molly is led to a spare room containing a dresser full of clean women’s clothing. Mick tells her she can wear anything in the drawers and they will dry her clothes. Who do these clothes belong to? Is there a wife and mother somewhere in this house? Molly has a million questions running through her mind, but she must make it through the night and she can call home tomorrow morning after the storm. However, things start to head south very quickly, and Molly knows she won’t be going home any time soon.
I found Molly’s character frustrating at times, but also totally relatable. She clearly knew a storm was coming, but still chose to travel two hours to her son’s game. It drove me insane that she let the gas tank run so low and put herself into a precarious position, but then I think about all the times my gas tank is close to empty. I can’t imagine going through the loss of a child and how that clouds one mind but walking away from your stalled vehicle without your phone?!
My favorite thing about this book is that the female characters were so strong and resilient, but still carried their raw emotions on their shoulders. Nicole is suffering the loss of her sister, blaming herself for not preventing what happened, and hating her mother. She regrets the things she said to Molly the morning of her disappearance and realizes that she needs her mom in her life. The investigation into Molly’s disappearance ended quickly, but Nicole is determined to find her mother dead or alive.
Molly must adapt to her new normal and do everything she can to survive. She must placate her captors but maintain awareness and keep her emotions in check. The smallest abductor, Alice, was probably the creepiest part of the book. She’s clearly an innocent child and likely a victim of Mick’s, but her ability to manipulate a situation and morph her emotions is highly disturbing. Alice knows she holds the key (quite literally) to Molly surviving this horrific imprisonment and she never fails to remind Molly of the same.
I had a pretty good idea about who the male captor was midway through the book, but there were other twists that caught me completely off guard. I love when that happens because it makes me enjoy the book even more. The last 30% of the book really ramped up and I could not put it down. I kept turning page after page after page, late into the night just to see how it would end. I highly recommend Don’t Look for Me for fans of Lisa Jewell or Ruth Ware.
Thank you to Negalley and St. Martin’s Press for advanced e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
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