Murderous scheme wickedly unravelled


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Lucas Forester is an absolute scoundrel.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/09/2022 (255 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Lucas Forester is an absolute scoundrel.

A sociopath’s sociopath, he’s Moriarty, he’s Mr. Ripley, he’s the Joker.

First-person narrator Lucas says it’s not his fault his wife had to die; he was left with no choice, not after his father-in-law concocted an ironclad pre-nup. Lucas only gets her estate if Michelle dies while they’re married and he’s the only living family member.

Never Coming Home

Lucas had planned to woo and marry Michelle, skim off as much of her fortune as he could and then, four or five years in, hit her with a divorce demand and walk off with big bucks. Nothing physical would happen to Michelle — no harm, no foul.

What’s a guy to do, rationalizes Lucas, but take your time to make sure you’ve covered all the angles, established wedded bliss, then plunge into the dark web and find a hitman who works the Boston area, set it up anonymously using cryptocurrency and arrange for Michelle to be abducted in front of the security cameras while Lucas was in England for a week?

He did specify, Lucas assures us, that Michelle be killed quickly and painlessly. A swell guy.

When we meet Lucas, Michelle has been missing for a month and the alleged kidnapper didn’t show for a ransom pickup. Lucas is a grieving basket case; his health is suffering, his work is suffering, and why haven’t the police done their jobs and found Michelle, he’s tearfully beseeching anyone who’ll listen.

That nasty father-in-law? Healthy, not all that old? He’s dead. Gosh, your book club is a cynical lot. You’ll find out what happened to him.

Michelle’s family is super wealthy — cue the ominous music. Her mother Nora likes Lucas, and Lucas genuinely likes her. Fortunately, Nora is dying.

For reasons the plot reveals, Nora has to go first, then her ne’er-do-well son Travis — a drug addict, Travis doesn’t know he’s looking at an imminent OD right after mom’s funeral. Michelle’s being declared legally dead? Lucas is playing the long game.

Add in a bunch of key background players, get hints about Lucas’s misspent but rich-in-evil-education youth as a Manchester wannabe gangster, and author Hannah Mary McKinnon has us well hooked.

McKinnon is English but moved to Canada in 2010. She’s written five previous mysteries.

As we meet and learn to loathe Lucas, someone is messing with him. Something out of place in his kitchen, tracks in the backyard, a rejected credit card, snippets of old photos, jewelry that should be on Michelle’s dresser and isn’t, anonymous notes that suggest (pause for suspense) someone knows what Lucas did.

Never Coming Home is diabolically clever. McKinnon has built a fiendishly convoluted plot that’s as intricate and brilliant as Lucas believes his own flawless scheme to be. It would be easy for McKinnon to slip into caricature and satire, but she’s too sharp for that. Never Coming Home is a murder mystery. It’s nasty.

Lucas is supremely confident in his omnipotence as villain and criminal mastermind — he can’t see a single mistake he’s made, and whoever is giving him grief, Lucas will find that person first, and his revenge will be swift and lethal. He’s smarter than everyone else.

Don’t get in his way — do you really want to never be seen again?

Retired Free Press reporter Nick Martin recognizes that with someone as irredeemably evil as Lucas Forester, there is nothing remotely appropriate that he could say about the character.

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