Come Home by Lisa Scottoline(3 out of 5)
Lisa Scottoline can always be counted on as a more ethereal Earth-Mother author in the Jodi Picoult realm of fiction. What does that mad statement mean? Jodi Picoult writes hard-sell- balls to the wall fiction- no easy way outs, no fluffy dialogue, no holds barred situations. I like Picoult and her novels. I like Scottoline better, however. There is more of a humanistic feel to her novels. They are almost always centered around the elusive notion of love. However, the last three have centered more around the family realm. This novel, in particular, brings out all the best and worst a mother’s love has to offer. I read this book in 8 hours and couldn’t put it down. Once I did put it down, I was filled with slight disappointment. It was almost as if I had read the last two books that Picoult wrote- as if some ghost writer had been doing peyote and taken over the writing of the book from the author instead of the same stunning conclusions that you usually end with when you pick up a Scottoline novel.
Jill Farrow is a suburban mom who works part-time for a pediatric practice. She’s happily engaged to a wonderful man and mom to Megan, from her first marriage. Things are going well until one rainy night when Abby, her stepdaughter from her previous marriage shows up at the house, drunk, crying, and bloody. She tells Jill that her father- William, Jill’s ex husband- has been murdered and she found the body. Jill and Sam, her fiance, take her in and offer her the guest room for the evening. Abby tells Jill that she’s convinced William was murdered, as he didn’t take pills, yet the police rule the death a suicide by mixing prescription meds with alcohol. Sam tells Jill she can’t do this, but she goes ahead and launches herself into the investigation that she basically conducts on her own. Her other stepdaughter Victoria, is irate and tells her to butt out. Megan and Sam both begin to feel neglected as all of Jill’s energies go into finding out answers for her other daughter. Things also start to fall to pieces at the practice, and Jill ends up losing one of her patients, who very well could have died, due to her preoccupation with the “case” and losing his bloodwork. That’s another loose end that doesn’t get tied up altogether well, but I’ll get to that. As this drags on, Sam leaves Jill to think about whether their relationship matters more than her ex-husband’s death, Megan has panic attacks, Abby disappears, Jill notices someone following her as she gets closer to answers, and the mother of the sick patient drops Jill as the pediatrician due to her losing focus. Is that enough to stop Jill? NO. Despite everyone around her telling her to drop it and accept the official police verdict, she continues on. People get killed, people get kidnapped, Jill and Victoria both find themselves in mortal danger- yet she keeps on. She keeps on because Abby, the other stepdaughter, begs and wheedles her into doing so- then Abby vanishes once she gets Jill on board. I realize, as the plot is explained toward the end, that she had reasons, but it seems selfish and immature to me. Abby, not my favorite character. Victoria, the other step-daughter, is kind of a bitch. However, given that her father just passed and she has a crazy Jill bugging her and telling her it wasn’t suicide but murder, she has a reason for being one. Jill is a character that under normal circumstances, I would admire as a strong lead. I can’t say that. It was incredibly hard for me to reconcile her logic throughout the book with her dialogue and then she goes and does something incredibly stupid that puts her entire family in danger- her new family, Sam, Megan, and Steven(the oft mentioned stepson). A mother’s love knows no bounds, but I have a hard time believing that even this mother would put her family in danger this way. The same logic applies to Rahul, the patient that Jill suspects(rightfully) is way sicker than the mother believes. She orders this bloodwork and stresses to the mom that it’s important to see the results asap, then she traipses off to New Jersey to chase a lead- forgets about the bloodwork, and the mother drops her. Of course, Rahul is seriously in deep shit, and by the time Jill does remember and discover what’s up, it’s almost too late. Again- a mother who’s treating another woman’s son- should have put more priority into her job so to save the kid’s life. When that end gets wrapped up at the finish of the book, I was very surprised since Rahul is such an important sub-plot to the story, that there wasn’t a scene in which Jill got to see him and his mother and obtain closure. No such scene- that also bothered me. Scottoline is big on the emotional discussions and when things are good, she usually has no issues throwing a happy scene in there. There are several of them at the end of the book, but not one with Rahul. I’m not sure why that’s sticking so prominently in my Wolverine claw, but it is.
I did like the fast paced setting of the story. I also liked how they tied up William’s death and what happened there. I got slightly confused because a bunch of unheard of characters suddenly appeared on the canvas, but once it was explained, it made perfect sense. It also helped me feel a little more sympathy toward Jill’s agenda. Not so much that I get her level of distraction being so high that she’s blind to what’s happening in her own family and job, but it humanized her. I really enjoyed the characters of Megan, Sam, and Brian, Victoria’s friend who helps throughout the ordeal of her father’s death. But Jill and Abby- it seemed at times almost a dysfunctional Lohan-style mother/daughter dynamic, minus the celebrity status, booze, and drugs. It didn’t fit in well with the story. It could also, however, be argued that Abby was wrestling with grief over her father’s death and wasn’t thinking clearly when she got Jill involved. Any number of scenarios could work in this book.
I just didn’t have the passion for the book as I usually do with Lisa Scottoline. I will recommend it to people who like Jodi Picoult and Leah Stewart, because it’s right up that alley of genre. I can’t say that it was a favorite of mine by her, because that certainly wasn’t the case. Too many little things nipping away at me after I finished it and thought about it. I did, as I stated earlier, enjoy the fast pace of the book and I did enjoy how she wrapped up the mystery of what happened to William. So I give it 3 stars.