In Lisa Unger's book, "Fragile," everyone has a secret.
Detective Jones Cooper has buried his shame under a layer of crusty bravado. Jones' son, Rick, a moody young man, has been living a double life that includes clandestine trips from his home in The Hollows to nearby New York City with his girlfriend, Charlene. Jones' wife, Maggie, is a secret keeper by profession. As a psychologist, it's her job to carry her patients' burdens. She is especially concerned about Marshall Crosby, a brilliant but disturbed young man who seems very close to coming undone.
Maggie's mother, Elizabeth Monroe, former high school principal, has kept quiet about a girl gone missing decades ago. When Charlene disappears from The Hollows, everyone's past gets scrutinized.
Everything about the girl gone missing - the red herrings and chapter-ending clues - felt contrived, jaded and lifeless.
The relationship between Jones and Maggie, while strong, has never been 100 percent honest. The couple has a hard time relating to their teenage son, who is fiercely protective of his troubled girlfriend, much to his parents' chagrin. The mother-daughter relationships, between Maggie and Elizabeth and Charlene and her mother, Melody, are fraught with land mines just waiting to explode.
Marshall's troubled relationship with an abusive father and his inability to relate to the outside world is a foreshadowing of much deeper issues that manifest themselves in a most disturbing way.
This was my first book by Unger and it will probably be my last, as the plot, characters and action felt old, stale and rehashed. I'm looking for fresh stories with original characters not recycled from every other best seller on the shelf. The reading public deserves more than leftovers like this.