Two years after a terrifying spate of teenage suicides, the remote village of Radcote has just begun to heal. Then a young man is killed in a freak motorcycle accident and a suicide note is found among his belongings. When a second boy is found dead shortly thereafter, the nightmare of repeat suicides once again threatens the community.
Desperate for a vacation, Detective Inspector Lorraine Fisher has just come to Radcote for a stay with her sister, Jo, but the atmosphere of the country house is unusually tense. Freddie, Jo's son, seems troubled and uncommunicative, and Jo is struggling to reach out to him. Meanwhile, Lorraine becomes determined to discover the truth behind these deaths. Are they suicides, or is there something more sinister at work? Finding answers might help Freddie, but they'll also lead to a shocking truth: whatever it is--or whoever it is--that's killing these young people is far more disturbing than she ever could have imagined, and unraveling the secret is just as dangerous as the secret itself.
Wicked, intense, and utterly compulsive, What You Left Behind confirms Samantha Hayes as a top thriller writer.
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About the Author
Reading Group Guide
What You Left Behind is a psychological thriller packed with twists and turns that will keep you hooked until the very end. It’s taken nearly two years for the residents of Radcote, a sleepy village in rural Warwickshire, to come to terms with a spate of teen suicides in the area. But then a young man is killed in a freak motorcycle accident, and a suicide note is found in his belongings. When a second homeless boy is found dead on the railway tracks, the locals fear the nightmare is starting up again.
DI Lorraine Fisher has just arrived in the village for a relaxing break with her sister. But soon she finds herself caught up in the ongoing police investigation, and when her nephew, Freddie, disappears, she knows she must act quickly. Are the recent deaths suicide or murder? And what is it that her nephew knows that has put him in such danger?
In order to provide reading groups with the most informed and thought-provoking questions possible, it is necessary to reveal certain aspects of the story in this novel. If you have not finished reading What You Left Behind, we respectfully suggest that you wait before reviewing this guide.
The story is told from different points of view. Which voice did you most relate to and why?
The book opens with a motorcycle accident, but we don’t know who the passenger is until the end. Did you suspect anyone? If so, who and why? How did knowing it was Sonia alter your perception of her?
Early on in the story, Lorraine discovers Freddie is withdrawn and depressed. Do you think Jo and Malc have been good parents? What could they have done differently? How did this contribute to Freddie going missing?
How do you think the local suicide spate affected Jo’s judgment when she suspected Freddie was harming himself? Should she have spoken out sooner? What are your views on talking openly about mental health issues and self-harm?
What did you think about Gil? Do you think that he is misunderstood? What effect did his autism have on the story? How did his condition affect Lorraine’s investigation?
Tony is charming and reliable, and he cares and provides for his family. When do the cracks begin to appear in his character? How did your thoughts of him at the end compare to those at the start of the book?
Discuss how Tony exerts such power over his victims.
Discuss Sonia’s relationship with her husband. Do you think she was abused? If so, how?
Some strong themes are presented in the story—mental health, self-harm, online bullying, homelessness, sexuality, and autism. Discuss how these issues affect the main characters.
Do you think Lorraine was right to get involved in a case outside of her area? What factors prompted this choice?
Did the book conclude as you’d imagined?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Intense, dark, shocking .... the book is all these, and more. It touches upon something we've all seen in the news. Teenage-suicides - mostly boys - were committed in this village some months ago. The people of the community are still trying to heal and find a way to go on. DI Lorraine Fisher is on vacation and visits her sister and her teenage son. While there, a boy's body is found .. along with a suicide note. And then a second young man is found. Lorraine's nephew has been acting strange ... secretive .. scared. Were these actual suicides? Lorraine means to find out before her nephew is next to be found. With the onset of the internet, bullying has become a huge part of young peoples' lives. Seems so easy to say things 'anonymously' that you might never do otherwise. The book encompasses this and much more. Made me realize that I wouldn't go back to my teen years for any amount of money.My thanks to NetGalley, the author, and Crown Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.
Strange book and story hard to even follow