And Then You Were Gone by R.J. Jacobs

From the Publisher:

After years of learning how to manage her bipolar disorder, Emily Firestone finally has it under control. Even better, her life is coming together: she’s got a great job, her own place, and a boyfriend, Paolo, who adores her. So when Paolo suggests a weekend sailing trip, Emily agrees—wine, water, and the man she loves? What could be better? But when Emily wakes the morning after they set sail, the boat is still adrift…and Paolo is gone.

A strong swimmer, there’s no way Paolo drowned, but Emily is at a loss for any other explanation. Where else could he have gone? And why? As the hours and days pass by, each moment marking Paolo’s disappearance, Emily’s hard-won stability begins to slip.

But when Emily uncovers evidence suggesting Paolo was murdered, the investigation throws her mania into overdrive, even as she becomes a person of interest in her own personal tragedy. To clear her name, Emily must find the truth—but can she hold onto her own sanity in the process?

This book read more like a cozy mystery, to me, than it did a psychological thriller. I happen to be a fan of cozies in addition to thrillers, so it did not bother this reader.

The amateur sleuth, Emily, struggles with bipolar disease and this is front and center to the narration. While I have little personal experience with this condition, I thoroughly appreciated the unreliability of the narrator due to her own questioning of her sanity and interpretation of events. During a romantic overnight trip on a boat, Emily’s boyfriend mysteriously disappears. She becomes suspect number one, and sets off on a self-destructive quest to clear her name. Due to some poor personal choices, she loses her job and ends up living at her mom’s house, so she has plenty of time to conduct her own investigation. She finds a willing sidekick in a friend of her missing boyfriend.
The majority of the violence happens off-screen. A boyfriend disappears, a body is discovered, and Emily hears secondhand about a potential serial killer in her area complete with some of the violence that has transpired.

For a plot-driven novel, there was a lot of inner monologue presented. These thoughts provide a lot of the background to the story. I did not find these to be very distracting, but neither did I find them showing growth in Emily.

I liked the solution to this mystery. I felt like it was a little rushed at the end, the final solution being sprung on the reader with fewer hints/clues than I would have liked. There was a lovely red herring though!

Overall, I thought this was a well-done debut novel. I read somewhere that this may be the beginning of a series, I hope that means we will get to see more of Emily in future installments. I will absolutely read the next book this author publishes.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read an advance copy of this book.

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