“Don’t you ever wish your problems would take care of themselves?”
Chance encounters. Haven’t we all had them? Flying across the Atlantic perhaps. Trapped by a seatbelt next to a complete stranger. A gesture or a glance tells you that you are free to make small talk. Before you know it, you are deep in conversation.
Lisa Unger’s Confessions on the 7:45 begins with one such chance encounter. Selena Murphy has a difficult decision to make. Before she heads home from work on the evening commuter train, she has checked her nanny cam that she recently repositioned in the children’s playroom. She’s not surprised to discover her currently unemployed husband, Graham, on the nanny cam, shagging the nanny on the children’s playroom floor. It is not the first time she has witnessed them. She uses the time on the train heading home to contemplate the situation. Her husband is a charmer and this is not his first indiscretion over the years. Selena wonders. Is this mutual attraction or was the young nanny a victim?
The woman seated next to her senses her disquiet. “Rough day?” asks the stranger. Selena half laughed. “You have no idea”. The stranger, Martha, shares her own conundrum. She is sleeping with her married boss whose wife just happens to own the business. Amidst their shared secrets, Selena sighs. “Don’t you ever wish your problems would take care of themselves?”
Arriving home, Selena is conflicted. She confronts her husband and he confirms it and promises to straighten up. Selena loves the competent nanny but to save her marriage, she plans to fire the nanny the next day. The next morning, strangely, the nanny just doesn’t show up for work. After the nanny’s sister reports her missing for more than a few days and the police learn of Graham’s affair, he comes a suspect in her disappearance. And the game is afoot.
The lives of Selena and Graham are the primary story line. As the reader becomes invested in their relationship, new chapters reveal other characters, each with their own fractured story lines. Hang in there reader, it is worth the early confusion of all these new names and relationships. To say more would ruin the moment the disparate threads begin to form a new fabric. Even when you think you have it figured out you are wrong; right up to the very end. And the end seemed to come together rather quickly leaving the reader wondering what the rush was all about to wrap things up.
Author, Lisa Unger’s specialty is to expose the forces that shape the behavior and motivation of each moral deviant. She tosses in moments where each villain has a split second of sympathy for their victims and we watch it dissipate in short order. She also shows the cracks in the victims’ psyches that attracts the attacks. Her strength is showing that no one, not even the reader, is all good or all bad. The difference is in what is stronger – our good side or our bad side.