The Three Beths by Jeff Abbott
Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: October 23, 2018
My Rating: 🍪🍪🍪🍪
Most of the thrillers I read are clear cut domestic thrillers, so although being in line genre-wise with what I read most regularly, The Three Beths had a different feel to it. This book is definitely set up as more of a murder mystery (or, ‘disappearance mystery,’ since there are no bodies to speak of), and the central plot-line revolves around Mariah, as she seeks to figure out what happened to her mother, who vanished without a trace. This is the first Beth we are introduced to: Beth Dunning. Mariah’s father, Craig, has long been suspected of being behind the disappearance, and has largely isolated himself from the outside world as he continues to get threatening phone calls and messages from neighbors who want him out of the area. He disapproves of his daughter’s continued obsession with trying to crack the case, and believes it is preventing her from being able to move on with her life.
One day, Mariah is perusing the website of Chad, who she went to school with. Chad has created a real crime podcast and prefers to go by his pseudonym: Reveal. Reveal’s website has a one-off comment about the disappearance of Mariah’s mom, and another Beth in the area, about six months apart. This is enough for Mariah to feel as if she has some sort of lead, and she meets up with Reveal to discuss the possibility of a connection. From there, we are thrown into the whirlwind of Mariah’s investigation. She meets with Beth’s mom, Sharon, and fiancé, Jake, as well as several friends. She quickly learns that Beth was struggling at work, suspected of embezzlement, and dealing with substance abuse in the weeks leading up to her disappearance. She appeared to be spiraling out of control, and was planning to leave her husband, eventually boarding a flight to Houston never to be seen again.
From the get go, we know that Sharon is hiding something. She keeps a gun on hand, and is clearly scared of Mariah digging into the life of her and her family. She believes that Jake is behind her daughter’s disappearance, but Mariah is not as quick to jump to conclusions, slowly growing closer to Jake as they talk through Beth’s life leading up to when she went missing. Mariah learns that Beth made a new friend during this time, Lizbeth Gonzales, the third Beth.
The number of characters and tiny plot details woven into this mystery was staggering. At times, it was a little hard to keep everyone straight, and to follow all the connections being made, but by the end, I was thoroughly invested. There was no way I could have figured out how everything fit together on my own, but I loved seeing the picture get filled in, and making realizations along with Mariah. During Mariah’s intense investigation, her father is dealing with more frequent threatening messages being left in his yard, and even an attempt on his life. This subset of the book seemed pretty random and unnecessary to me, and I think most of that could have been cut (it’s a hefty book as is, so it wouldn’t have felt watered down at all without these extra chapters). This was my first Jeff Abbott read, and although a little confusing at times, I am definitely intrigued in looking into more of his books.