Audiobook Review: Wherever She Goes by Kelley Armstrong
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 5 of 5 stars
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Macmillan Audio (June 25, 2019)
Length: 8 hrs and 17 mins
Narrator: Therese Plummer
I just finished Wherever She Goes by Kelley Armstrong and it was so intense that sitting down to write this review now, my heart is still pounding a mile a minute in my chest. I’m a huge fan of the author’s thrillers, in particular her Rockton series, and it was a delight to find that this was in the same league in terms of excitement and drive, though of course it was also different enough to offer a new and refreshing change of pace.
In this standalone novel, we follow protagonist Aubrey Finch who has just recently separated from her husband Paul. But while she has long since accepted the fate of her doomed marriage, what she refuses to give up on is joint custody of her daughter Charlotte, who is Aubrey’s whole world. Despite being an independent, resourceful and smart woman, Aubrey knows her questionable past and lack of financial resources would not stand a chance in court against Paul, a successful defense lawyer who can provide stability for their child. And so she throws herself into being the best mother she can be, bringing Charlotte to the park on their weekends together, trying to mingle with the other moms to prove to others and herself that she is perfectly capable of taking care of her daughter.
This is how Aubrey first meets the young blonde woman, who shows up at the park sometimes with her little boy. They’ve talked on occasion, though never shared names. Just the usual kind of chitchat you have with your typical friendly mom who brings their kid to the playground. But then one day, during a jog through the park on her lunchbreak, Aubrey witnesses the blonde woman’s son being pulled forcefully into a car, with the woman herself nowhere to be seen. In a panic, Aubrey calls the police to report a kidnapping, expecting them put out an Amber alert, mobilize a search, the whole nine yards. Instead, nothing happens. The police say that no one has reported their child missing, so there’s nothing that can be done other than to follow up on the limited leads that Aubrey has provided, which have been checked and have gone nowhere. Frustrated, Aubrey decides to do her own digging into the situation, knowing what she saw was real, that somewhere out there, a child is in danger. And yet, the more she pushes, the more trouble she seems to find herself in. People are starting to question her sanity, wondering whether her fears of losing her own child might be making her delusional. Worse, her investigation activities might be drawing some unwanted attention, threatening to expose details from her past that she would prefer to leave unexplored.
Leave it to Kelley Armstrong to write such an addictive and immersive thriller! I was captivated from the moment it started, and I don’t think the pace slows down at all. Story-wise, Wherever She Goes might come across as the same old, same old—a missing child, an amateur detective protagonist whose obsession with the case leads others to doubt them, and so on and so forth—but what Armstrong does that few other authors can pull off is a perfect sense of timing and a writing style that can convey a sense of desperate immediacy. We’re with Aubrey every step of the way as she carries out her own investigation, feeling the full brunt of her anxiety, fears, and tension. Any moment this fragile situation could come tumbling down on her, jeopardizing her own life as well as those she loves.
And speaking of Aubrey, what a fascinating character Armstrong has created. Aubrey Finch a bright young woman with a real knack for technology, but life hasn’t exactly gone her way due to some unfortunate circumstances as well as mistakes on her part. Throw in a bit of social awkwardness, and others aren’t always willing to trust her because they find her aloof and slightly strange. The fact that this story takes place in a big city doesn’t help, where people are either apathetic to point of nihilism or so prying and judgmental that they always seem to be sticking their nose in your business. Aubrey finds herself dismissed as a crazy person trying to make trouble, and it was so frustrating seeing her brushed off by everyone. Still, this is a lady you don’t want to mess with. Whether she’s hacking into network systems of fighting off thugs that are more than twice her size, she can take care of herself. She’s also fiercely independent, refusing to accept help even if she could really use it. Despite her occasional bullheadedness and her tendency to run headlong into the unknown though, I still found her extremely likeable and relatable and easy to root for.
There were also some surprises in this otherwise straightforward thriller, including discovering that Paul was actually quite a decent guy despite Aubrey’s initial fears that he might fight her over custody arrangements for Charlotte. And there were so many twists and turns in the second half of the novel, it was hard to know who to trust anymore.
Bottom line, Kelley Armstrong is an author who knows how to keep you on your toes. Granted, I have not read many of her paranormal/fantasy work, but with books like Wherever She Goes, I definitely find myself gravitating more towards her thrillers. This was another winner for me, and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys exciting and suspenseful mysteries.
Audiobook Comments: I absolutely adore Therese Plummer, whom I think is one of the industry’s most talented narrators. I became a fan when I first listened to Kelley Armstrong’s City of the Lost (and then the rest of the Rockton series) in audio, and I was so glad to find out that Plummer was on board for this one too. Her voicework gave dimension to Aubrey’s character, making her personality feel genuine, and the sense of urgency her performance brought to the plot was perfect for a thriller.