Initial reaction: I thought it was actually quite a nice mystery and compelling read. I didn’t really put this book down as I followed Dani’s struggles to remember what happened the night her husband disappeared. It’s a decent character study of a woman who has a lot of complicated relationships and explores the issues behind them as well as the overarching mystery. I think the comparisons to “Gone Girl” actually do it a disservice because it’s a very different novel than that. I liked it quite a bit.
Quick review for a somewhat quick read. Deb Caletti’s “He’s Gone” is a tale of an unreliable narrator, a mystery, and a complex character study all in one swoop. I personally would not have compared this to Flynn’s “Gone Girl”, but there are very (keyword: very) minor similarities. Dani is a woman carrying many different weights in her life, and it’s just one more weight when her husband doesn’t come home after a night in which they were both drunk and presumably had an argument. Her memory is scant, and her fear grows as progressive pieces of the night and of previous weeks fall into places. Dani toys with the idea of never coming home or imagining something happening to her given the situations in her life, but she never thinks it would be her husband who would take to the task first. It’s really a novel that shows a series of deteriorating relationships and self-doubt/blame on Dani’s part, but at the same time, the intimacy of Dani’s perspective and emotions keep it very vivid. I found myself intrigued as to both the overarching mystery of what happened to her husband and also following her backstory.
Don’t get me wrong, Dani’s life is by all measures complicated and complex. She’s “the other woman” in her husband’s relationships (yes, cheating is a central focus in this book) and it’s intricately tied to not just former relationships in her life but also her present. It ties up a little neater than I was expecting given the weight of the build-up the story has from the beginning, and there are some moments that feel a little more weighted for pacing – but the story itself still gripped me because of how well it captures Dani’s actions and reactions in the moment. Caletti has a gift for that kind of focus that’s present in her YA works, and it certainly works here in the first adult work I’ve read from her. I’m definitely interested in reading more from her in the future.
Overall score: 3.5/5 stars.
Note: I received this as an ARC from Edelweiss from the publisher, but also purchased an audio copy from Audible.