The Second Man by Emelle Gamble
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense
Length: Full Length (246 pgs)
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Poppy
Jill Farrell’s college reunion is coming up, but she wants no part of it. The man she once loved, Swedish exchange student Max Kallstrom, is rumored to be attending, but that doesn’t tempt her as Max disappeared from her life the night before the graduation, and has never been heard from since.
When her ex-husband, Andrew Denton, knocks on her door and announces he wants to make nice, and, “oh, by the way, one of their class alumni might be a murderer”, Jill’s resolve to avoid the event hardens.
Jill shuts Andrew’s efforts to reconnect down, and tries to put Max out of her mind. And that’s that, until a second man knocks on her door, and the emotions of a time long ago overtakes her. Max Kallstrom tells Jill she’s the reason he has come to California. He asks her to please let him explain why she hasn’t heard from him for fifteen long years.
She’s willing to listen to what he has to say, but immediately realizes that her memories must guide her through a wrenching and dangerous few days. While her heart remembers a handsome young lover, she and her classmates are all different people now, and the reality of a murdered friend proves she can’t trust everyone.
What’s not so clear is if she should trust anyone . . . especially Max Kallstrom.
Once again, Emelle Gamble has written a book that enthralls.
From the first, I was wrapped up in Jill’s life. The story starts with her decision to move her mother, who has Alzheimer’s, into a nursing home. It utterly breaks her heart (both having to move her and realizing that her mother doesn’t really even see her or know her anymore), and it broke mine as well. Then one after another, more heart-rending things happen. Her ex wants to talk to her, her one true love, Max stops by and wants to explain why he left her … and then a friend is murdered.
Poor Jill has way too much going on and doesn’t know where to turn. Thankfully, she has her best friend, Carly to talk to, along with Carly’s husband, Ham. Things start escalating pretty quickly both with Max and the murder mystery. All fingers point to Max as the bad guy, but she has a hard time thinking he could commit murder. In fact, she knows she’s falling in love all over again.
Ms. Gamble has populated the story with exceptionally real characters, all different and unique, with character strengths and flaws. There are plenty of secondary characters (it does involve a class reunion, after all). The town, too, is well written and the descriptions are all clear without being over bearing. It was a nail-biting experience and the reveal at the end was a huge surprise! Well done, Ms. Gamble!
If you’re looking for a strong, well-written romantic suspense that will keep you guessing, I recommend The Second Man. It’s definitely a winner.