Review: Twists and Turns Galore, Plus ‘Me Too’ Propel Choose Me

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When you catch yourself talking to a character in a book, that indicates the writer(s) have drawn it well enough so that you feel invested, even moved by the character.

Well, in Choose Me, the new book by Gary Goshgarian (using the pen name Braver) and Tess Gerritsen, I found myself yelling quite often at English Professor Jack Dorian, who by inches and miles, falls headlong into a disastrous relationship with a student who is not exactly on an even keel. We all know it cannot possibly end well. And boy, does it not end well for anyone.

A pretty house in the suburbs, a Volvo in the driveway, a successful spouse and a prestigious job still can’t keep the main character, Jack, out of trouble.

Jack, feeling alone because his physician wife is working crazy hours, and worn down by their unsuccessful attempts to have a child, is vulnerable to the charms of the unstable and obsessive yet drop-dead gorgeous student who has no intention to take no for an answer.

The student, Taryn Moore, has a hard time accepting that her longtime boyfriend from her small town, now a fellow college student in Boston, has broken up with her for good. She can’t let go of his youthful promises to love her forever. In a haze of anger and dejection, amplified by her precarious emotional, financial and social situations, she decides to train her laser-like focus on another man, her English literature professor.

We think that the adult in the room should know better than to engage in this unhealthy relationship since after all, he holds the power, but in this case, our tweedy professor is too busy feeling sorry for himself. And that is where the “Me Too” issues come in.

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Before long, Taryn ends up dead. Was it a suicide or murder?

Taryn is drawn well as a character whose strength and possibly core have been chipped away by life as well as the many men in her life. She is hanging precariously at the edge of an abyss: she has the mind of an English Lit professor, the face of a model and the bank account of a pauper.

Her working-class mother cannot understand why her daughter is pursuing higher education, though she is doing all she can to send her money, and Taryn knows that if she does not make it at school or loses her high school sweetheart, who happens to be from the right side of the tracks in their little town, she will end up in a hardscrabble life much like her mother.

Still, the book makes it clear that Taryn is not just hurt by life but her perception of reality. She thinks nothing of stalking her former boyfriend and breaking into his apartment to steal little trinkets or to embarrass him and his new love at a restaurant.

Here, it is clear this young woman does not make the best choices and is headed for a fall — in this case literally.

Is it her callous ex who has already moved on to another lithe beauty or could it be her classmate who despite getting ignored and put down repeatedly by Taryn, can’t get himself to accept that she does not hold much affection for him?

And what about Professor Dorian, who is about to lose his career and marriage if news of the affair comes to light?

Doing the heavy lifting is detective Frankie Loomis, who hides her first-rate brain from suspects by wearing dowdy suits and playing second-banana to her lieutenant during interviews. Her internal dialogue makes her one of the most interesting characters in the book. We know she will sniff out the guilty party and with her calm manner, will see to justice.

It is clear she has a backstory, one I can only hope can be explored further in a subsequent novel.

Each chapter in the book focuses on one character, in a way that really makes us get inside their minds. The narrative keeps one turning pages to find out who killed Taryn and why. It is also an interesting study in how one bad decision can lead to another, resulting in a disaster.

Choose Me is a page-turner. As Jack and Taryn get together, it is clear it will be cataclysmic for both.

Choose to read it.

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