Title: He’s Gone
Author: Deb Caletti
No. of Pages: 352
Origins: Random House Publishing Group
Bottom Line: Excellent psychological thriller that proves Deb Caletti’s ability to write a compelling story.
“The Sunday morning starts like any other, aside from the slight hangover. Dani Keller wakes up on her Seattle houseboat, a headache building behind her eyes from the wine she drank at a party the night before. But on this particular Sunday morning, she’s surprised to see that her husband, Ian, is not home. As the hours pass, Dani fills her day with small things. But still, Ian does not return. Irritation shifts to worry, worry slides almost imperceptibly into panic. And then, like a relentless blackness, the terrible realization hits Dani: He’s gone.As the police work methodically through all the logical explanations—he’s hurt, he’s run off, he’s been killed—Dani searches frantically for a clue as to whether Ian is in fact dead or alive. And, slowly, she unpacks their relationship, holding each moment up to the light: from its intense, adulterous beginning, to the grandeur of their new love, to the difficulties of forever. She examines all the sins she can—and cannot—remember. As the days pass, Dani will plumb the depths of her conscience, turning over and revealing the darkest of her secrets in order to discover the hard truth—about herself, her husband, and their lives together.”
Thoughts: In Deb Caletti’s latest novel, He’s Gone, she explores the mysterious repercussions of a sudden disappearance and the psychological ramifications on his partner. Further complicating issues is Ian and Dani’s unusual journey to marriage. The result is a complex study of marriage and the lies we tell ourselves in the forms of truths.
Like all of Ms. Caletti’s characters, Dani Keller is an absolute delight. She is self-deprecating and insightful, observant, and afraid. Her fears reveal themselves slowly, and however fragile she appears on the surface, she has a strength within her of which not even she is aware. A reader is at once beguiled by her confusion, hurt, and growing anger at the circumstances in which she finds herself.
In addition to her strong characterization, Ms. Caletti has a way with words that is almost poetic. Her descriptions are gorgeous, allowing a reader to feel the gentle rocking of Dani’s houseboat, the sounds on the lake, the chill of the Seattle rain, and the aroma of a freshly brewed cup of coffee. Her stage-setting is every bit as enjoyable as her characters.
The brilliance of He’s Gone lies in its multi-layered approach, the fact that it is simultaneously a psychological thriller and a psychological study of human nature. Dani’s slow realization of the truth is hypnotic, and her exploration of an abused wife is equally fascinating. The mystery behind Ian’s disappearance is second-place to Dani’s self-discovery but still compelling in its own right. After her knock-out Stay and now He’s Gone, Deb Caletti is proving to be a tour de force in psychological literary fiction.