Nancy Bush is one of our more prolific authors. Notable books include her Jane Kelley mysteries and the recently published WICKED GAME, which she penned in collaboration with her sister, Lisa Jackson. For those of you familiar with Bush primarily from her romance novels, be warned: UNSEEN is a dark, wild ride.
A pedophile's attempt to kidnap a girl on the cusp of adolescence is effectively, if brutally, broken up, leaving the perpetrator mortally wounded. Subsequently, a young woman named Gemma LaPorte shows up at a local emergency room with significant, though not life-threatening, injuries that appear to have been sustained in an automobile accident. Will Tanninger, a detective with the Winslow County Sheriff's Department, believes that LaPorte's injuries are consistent with those that might have been experienced in a car crash. He alleges that she can't remember what happened to her. Tanninger keeps pushing and learns that she has had other "lost time" experiences, as well as a background of tragedy.
Even as he is putting a case against her, Tanninger finds that he is slowly but steadily becoming attracted to LaPorte. But when a murder occurs with the victim being an abusive husband and father, the spotlight of suspicion is once again cast upon LaPorte. Meanwhile, another series of horrific crimes is taking place, with the victims in these cases being young women who have one very subtle thing in common.
A doctor who has begun to treat LaPorte believes that she may be afflicted with Dissociative Identity Disorder, which used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder. Such a diagnosis could explain much of what has occurred, but it would also mean that LaPorte is in fact a murderer. As LaPorte and Tanninger approach a consummation of their relationship, Tanninger finds that he may have to make some difficult choices, ones that will ultimately put him and LaPorte in surprising but lethal danger.
UNSEEN is a roller coaster of a reading ride. Bush takes her time putting her blocks in place and then spends the last third or so of the book unreeling all that has gone before. The revelations are startling --- one particularly so --- yet Bush plays fairly, leaving enough clues along the way that careful readers will figure things out before turning to the last page. Nominally set in the same literary universe as WICKED GAME, one does not need to have read it in order to fully appreciate UNSEEN. What is perhaps most stunning, however, is the manner in which the novel demonstrates Bush's wide versatility as a writer. She pulls no punches in her graphic descriptions of lovemaking or mayhem-inspired revenge, and there is no topic that seems to be off-limits.
While the book has a conclusive ending, Bush leaves some plot threads dangling to explore in future novels. Longtime Bush fans will find in UNSEEN a new side of the author to explore and enjoy.