The One That Got Away by Joe Clifford

The One That Got Away

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thanks to Net Galley, Down & Out Books and Joe Clifford for a chance to review this book.

The One That Got Away is one hell of a mystery thriller, the prologue itself causing terror in our hearts. The story focuses on Alex Salerno who, even after many years has not been able to get over the trauma of having been captured and locked into an underground box from where she was rescued. And that’s exactly what all the people in her hometown refers to, ‘The One That Got Away’. Her captor is in prison but the town of Reine has experienced another murder, Kira Shanks almost 7 years back and a college kid’s research questions sends Alex to a whole new discovery of things in her town where no one is as it seems. There is a darkness permeating the story especially when the main character Alex is set about destroying her 2nd chance at life with drinks and drugs to keep the edge off of her daily life. Her character is not warmth inducing and most times utterly unlikable to all the people helping her. The ending was a surprise and the chapters with Benny’s thoughts were really heartbreaking.


In the early 2000s, a string of abductions rocked the small upstate town of Reine, New York. Only one girl survived: Alex Salerno. The killer, Ken Parsons, was sent away. Life returned to normal. No more girls would have to die. Until another one did.

It’s been seven years since Kira Shanks was reported missing and presumed dead. Alex Salerno has been living in New York City, piecemealing paychecks to earn a livable wage, trying to forget those three days locked underground and her affair with Sean Riley, the married detective who rescued her. When Noah Lee, hometown reporter with a journalistic pedigree, requests an interview, Alex returns to Reine and Riley, reopening old wounds. What begins as a Q&A for a newspaper article soon turns into an opportunity for money, closure and—justice. The disappearance of Kira Shanks has long been hung on Benny Brudzienski, a hulking man-child who is currently a brain-addled guest at the Galloway State Mental Hospital. But after Alex reconnects with ex-classmates and frenemies, doubts are cast on that guilt. Alex is drawn into a dangerous game of show and tell in an insular town where everyone has a secret to hide. And as more details emerge about the night Kira Shanks went missing, Alex discovers there are some willing to kill to protect the horrific truth.

In the modern vein of Dark Places and Mystic RiverThe One That Got Away is a dark, psychological thriller featuring a compelling, conflicted heroine and a page-turning narrative that races toward its final, shocking conclusion.

View all my reviews

One thought on “The One That Got Away by Joe Clifford

Leave a Reply