Book Review: Best Laid Plans by Gwen Florio
Just turned 50, Nora Best is about to undergo a massive life change. She and her husband Joe have quit their jobs, sold their home and bought a beautiful Airstream trailer and a truck to pull it, trading in the corporate rat race for life on the open road. Until, at their going-away party, Nora catches Joe in the bathroom with his former boss’s wife.
Suddenly, everything is up-ended. On impulse, Nora takes off with the truck and the Airstream, driving through the night and finally winding up in a remote campground in deepest Wyoming, parking up next door to sweet Miranda and her handsome husband Brad, the camp managers. The couple are kind to her, but things take a turn for the weird after Nora’s first night when Brad disappears, leaving behind only a massive bloodstain on the grass. Has he really been eaten by a bear? Nora planned to move on, but Miranda’s distraught, she can’t just leave her. And then suddenly, Nora’s a suspect…
This had some really fun twists and turns. Nora’s in a state of shock for pretty much the entire book, and her state of mind does lead her to do some things which someone operating entirely rationally might not do, but as I said, she’s in a state of shock and though she doesn’t realise it until later, she’s being deliberately kept that way, off balance and having to react to the blows that keep coming.
Nora’s set up as a sympathetic protagonist from the beginning when she finds Joe cheating on her, and to be honest, it was necessary, because there were definitely places where I struggled to like her. She came off as entitled and rich (and considering both she and Joe had good careers and no kids, how the hell did they end up at 50 with no assets but the car and trailer?) and there was a bit of backstory mentioned a couple times where in her previous job, she apparently helped four male students ‘spin’ their way out of a gang rape charge, which absolutely horrified me. It didn’t seem necessary and it REALLY needed cutting, because I was suddenly very much not rooting for her when I read that. I wondered if the ‘villain’ was going to turn out to be the victim or a family member looking for revenge, actually, but it seemed to be a red herring because it didn’t come up again.
This is the first in a series about Nora - presumably travelling around with her Airstream and stumbling into crimes - and while it’s an interesting concept and I did like the twists of the mystery here, I’m not sure I care about or like Nora enough after reading this to really want to follow her adventures. I might pick up the second book if it happens to cross my radar, but it’s not something I’m going to put on my Must Read list. I’ll give this one four stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.