The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.
The Three Beths by Jeff Abbott is a psychological thriller that explores family dynamics. The story of missing loved ones grabs at the readers, sparking curiousity. Readers are drawn into the story, feeling empathy for the characters.
Abbott noted, "There were these two separate ideas that came together. I thought about these cases where someone has gone missing and the police have a pretty good idea of who did it, but no evidence. Sometimes in that situation it is a family member. That brought me to the second idea, I kept thinking what would be like, for a daughter to be constantly defending an accused parent. The OJ Simpson case is a famous example. How did his children regard their father? What would it be like to live as a family member after their father was accused of murder? The characters of Mariah and Craig popped into my mind. It was a Lego block of an idea. Sometimes ideas lock together like Lego blocks and formulate a story."
The plot unfolds with the touching thoughts of Mariah, “My mom would never leave me.” Beth Dunning, her mom has disappeared without a trace and has been missing for a year. The police chief, Dennis Broussard, who once had feelings for Beth, suspects Mariah’s dad, Craig. Broussard has tunnel vision since there is no body and no physical evidence linking Craig to the supposed murder. Mariah feels compelled to clear her father’s name and find her mom, considering the townspeople are trying to run the Dunnings out of town. Her feelings jump from guilt to anger to loneliness. Determined to investigate she takes the suggestion of a high school friend who is now a true-crime blogger. An estranged wife, Bethany Curtis, of a tech millionaire also went missing six months earlier. What links the two disappearances is the name, Beth. What Mariah finds out is that many of the answers seem to lie with a third Beth, Lizbeth, who seems very elusive. As the clues lead her closer to answers, she and her dad are threatened, with the truth more devastating than she could have imagined.
"I explore grief. Mariah thought she saw her mom in the mall. Grief can play tricks on the mind. I want readers to look at this family and how they were grieving. Everyone builds their own memories of what happened and their roles in it. When lightning burned down my house I had some vivid memories of those four to five hours, but also stretches of time that got scrambled. We never know who another person is including ourselves. There is always another side we do not know about. We know the image we hold of a person, but can never know everything about them. Some days we do not even know everything about ourselves. We have these masks on concealing how we feel about things and will not say our thoughts out loud."
Readers will get into the minds of all the characters. They follow the betrayals, lies, and deceits and realize that most of the characters are very flawed. People will not want to put this book down, until they also find answers and the truth regarding the disappearance of the three Beths.