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Book review: Miss Me When I'm Gone

Book review: Miss Me When I'm Gone
Published: August 12, 2012

“Miss Me When I'm Gone” (William Morrow Paperbacks, $14.99), by Emily Arsenault, is a compelling mystery with a story within a story.

Gretchen Waters is the author of “Tammyland,” a honky-tonk version of “Eat, Pray, Love.” She dies when she falls down some stone steps, after speaking at a public event. People assume it was an accident.

Gretchen's best friend from college, Jamie, now pregnant, had been out of touch until receiving an email from Gretchen a few weeks before her death. She feels guilty because she didn't respond. After the funeral, Gretchen's family asks Jamie to be her literary executor.

Jamie tries to put together the novel Gretchen was working on when she died. She left several notebooks filled with pieces of the story. Jamie returns to Gretchen's hometown to seek clues. She finds Gretchen had become entangled in trying to find the person who killed her mother 20 years before and the identity of her father. It is now up to Jamie to solve the mystery as she works though Gretchen's material. As she interviews people who knew Gretchen and her mother, Jamie realizes that their killer is now focused on her.

Passages from “Tammyland” are intertwined through the book. Each passage, titled with the name of a country song, focuses on Gretchen's admiration for the women of country music. Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton and Dottie West have a strange appeal to Gretchen. She loves their songs because of their raw emotion and realism, a contradiction to her cool, hip, liberal New England persona.

— Betty Lytle


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