And Then You Were Gone by R.J. Jacobs Review


*Major spoilers*

I can’t remember the last time I read 2 books in one year. And this year isn’t even half way over. Anyways, this was the second book I read (the first being ‘The Night Tiger’, which got an 8/10).

Emily Firestone goes on a sailing trip with her boyfriend Paolo Fererra. She has been dealing with bipolar disorder for years and seems to be getting it under control. On the first morning of the sailing trip, however, Emily awakes up alone on the boat. Paolo is gone.

Over the course of the book, Emily gathers evidence that suggests that Paolo was murdered. The investigation throws her mania into overdrive as she attempts to hold onto her sanity as she investigates her boyfriend’s disappearance (and maybe even murder).

The book was fairly short at 278 pages with a decently large font size. While it is vastly different than ‘The Night Tiger’, it’s one of the only recent comparisons I can make as a non-reader, so I will make some quick off-handed comparisons (they both involve murders, after all).

One of the first things I noticed about ‘And Then You Were Gone’ compared to ‘The Night Tiger’ was the level and quality of writing (I read them a few weeks apart so it stood out quite a bit) . Jacobs is definitely well-written and educated, but lacks the authorial greatness of Yangsze Choo. Jacobs is a practicing psychologist that worked very hard to write a good book, but Choo is a writer. And that difference is significant in the way exposition and character details get written in. Jacobs is slightly lacking in flow and cohesiveness, sometimes feeling fragmented.

As for the actual narrative and plot points, I think that ‘And Then You Were Gone’ succeeds. It’s an interesting and gripping murder mystery that definitely picks up pace towards the end (even though I guessed the big twists long before they actually happened). While I think ‘The Night Tiger’ appeals to a broader audience than just those who are interested in murder mysteries, ‘And Then You Were Gone’ doesn’t have that same appeal. If you aren’t a fan of the murder mystery narrative, this won’t change your mind. It doesn’t do much to distance itself from others in the genre, although it is a fine addition to the pantheon.

‘And Then You Were Gone’ is a good read albeit a predictable one.

7/10 – Good

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