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Come with Me


Come with Me

Edgar Award-winning author Erin Flanagan’s new novel, COME WITH ME, is a white-knuckle psychological thriller of the highest order.

The book opens in 2012. Gwen Maner enters the conference room of Dack & Anders, the media agency where she is interning, and meets her fellow interns, Nikki and Missy. She hits it off with Missy but finds Nikki to be a bit standoffish. The internship does not go well for Gwen, who is often surprised that she has not been terminated. Still, it becomes a part of her past in Ohio that she leaves behind when she moves to Colorado, gets married and starts a family. Gwen does take with her the five rules that Nikki lives by (more on those later).

"COME WITH ME is a memorable read with characters you will not easily shake and an unsettling storyline that will have you looking over your shoulder as you turn the pages."

The story jumps primarily between the years 2012 and 2022 and are told from the points of view of both Gwen and Nicola (aka Nikki). In 2022, Gwen and her husband, Todd, are out to dinner with friends. Todd tragically suffers a massive coronary and dies.

Now, Gwen and her eight-year-old daughter, Whitney, are on their own and in desperate need of regular income. It turns out that Todd failed to inform his wife of the dire straits that his company was in, to the point that their savings and insurance are wiped out and Gwen is left with practically nothing to sustain life as a now-single mother. Her only recourse is to move back to Ohio and stay with her mother until she gets on her feet again. This begins with getting gainfully employed and prompts her to look up Dack & Anders. Much to her surprise, Nicola has risen up the ranks to the role of COO, so she decides to reach out.

Surprisingly, Nicola not only remembers Gwen, she feels for her and offers to create a job for her at D&A, even though her resume is quite thin. Gwen immediately interviews with the company and is a slam dunk for the new position. Nicola also recognizes that Gwen is not thrilled about living with her mother for any length of time and surprises her with a paid-for condo in the same development where she lives. With Nicola now playing the roles of boss and landlord, it appears that she is an indelible fixture in the lives of Gwen and Whitney. At this point, Gwen has no idea just how deep this relationship has become.

It starts slowly, with Nicola inserting herself into Whitney’s life and coaxing her unwavering support by allowing the young girl to have full access to her new puppy. Matters will get far more serious when the super-assertive Nicola stands up to Gwen’s mother and makes an instant enemy out of her. When Gwen’s mother is found knocked senseless in her own home, which the doctors attribute to her diabetes and dizziness, Gwen suspects that Nicola had a hand in this.

This brings me back to the five rules that Nicola still has posted in her office:

#1 – Don’t Let Anyone Make You Feel Small
#2 – Know Your Friends
#3 – Trust Your Instincts
#4 – Never Look Back
#5 – Truth, Not Facts

Flanagan’s use of these five points within Nicola’s personal mantra is brilliant and provides a chilling heading to each section of the novel, where they all fit perfectly into the narrative.

If it sounds like you’ve read this tale of obsessive relationships before, you will be pleasantly surprised at where Flanagan takes the story. Readers will firmly root for Gwen, even when the situation seems too bleak for her. COME WITH ME is a memorable read with characters you will not easily shake and an unsettling storyline that will have you looking over your shoulder as you turn the pages.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on August 25, 2023

Come with Me
by Erin Flanagan