Skip to main content

What Happened to the Bennetts


What Happened to the Bennetts

Bestselling author Lisa Scottoline returns with WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BENNETTS, a high-octane, edge-of-your-seat thriller that will have you asking, “What happened to the Bennetts, really?” The answer, as it turns out, is complicated, riveting and the definition of a nail-biter.

Jason Bennett and his family are about as normal as normal can be. Jason works as a court reporter; his wife, Lucinda, is a photographer; and their two kids, Allison and Ethan, round out their perfect suburban family. On the day we meet the Bennetts, they are driving Jason’s brand-new Mercedes home from Allison’s lacrosse game when a pickup truck starts tailgating them. Jason would prefer to ignore them, but after some pestering from his family, he tries to let the truck pass…and winds up being involved in a carjacking. Minutes later, Allison is bleeding from a gunshot wound to the neck, Lucinda and Ethan are frozen in shock and horror, and the driver of the truck has shot his partner and fled the scene. It’s not a spoiler to say that Allison does not survive the night, but that’s only the very beginning of the Bennetts’ problems.

"[Scottoline] doesn’t let up with the twists, and in fact matches them at every turn with believable, resonant character development and surprisingly poignant musings on grief, marriage and justice."

Bleary-eyed and swollen with grief, Jason and his family are woken up only hours after Allison’s death by two FBI agents knocking on their door. The good news is that the police have identified the would-be carjackers-turned-murderers. The bad news is that they’re players in a much bigger crime ring: the drug-trafficking gang known as the George Veria Organization (GVO). The agents tell the Bennetts that carjackings occur for one of three reasons: a car is stolen by perpetrators fleeing a crime, a vehicle is taken because of its make and price on the black market, or a driver is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Jason may work in the court system, but his role as a transcriber is hardly glamorous or dangerous, so he feels certain that this was a crime of opportunity.

Given that the driver of the truck, John Milo, immediately shot his own partner, George Veria, Jr., the FBI has another theory: they believe that the gang members were fleeing the scene of another crime and wanted Jason’s Mercedes. When the carjacking went wrong, however, Milo saw an opportunity to kill his rival and rise in the ranks of GVO…while pinning it all on Jason. Now the Bennetts must enter the witness protection program --- leaving their home, their daughter’s body, and all of their friends and memories behind --- or risk becoming the next victims of GVO. Because Veria wasn’t just Milo’s rival, he was the crime boss’s son.

As the Bennetts make the split-second decision to pack their things (in all of 15 minutes) and go into hiding with the FBI, the fault lines of their grief and other buried secrets start to crack. Their home and businesses are torched shortly after their escape, proving that they made the right choice, but Lucinda struggles with missing her friends, her daughter’s funeral and the ability to visit her own mother in an assisted living facility. Jason comes to like and trust Dom Kingston, one of the agents looking after them, but Lucinda and Ethan are too consumed by their grief to take much notice of the officers or their surroundings.

Meanwhile, back in the Bennetts’ hometown, a search has begun for the beloved family of four who seemingly disappeared overnight. Once again, Jason becomes the obvious suspect, and with newspapers labeling him as a family annihilator, the pressure on the couple mounts. Jason cannot help but feel that the officers are not telling him and his family everything they need to know. Why is it taking so long to find Milo? Why are they are so valuable to the FBI as witnesses? He also can’t understand their unwillingness to help them process their grief or put the rumors about him to rest.

As Jason points out, most people in the witness protection program are criminals themselves who cannot be trusted to deliver the statements they promise. The Bennetts are a family of good, upstanding people who will be believed in court and should be treated differently from other witnesses in similar situations. But when an explosive secret about his wife’s past is revealed as part of a public investigation by a “citizen-detective,” Jason realizes that they really aren’t your average witness protection participants; they are much more valuable and in far more danger.

Never before has a title been more appropriate than WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BENNETTS. Much like Jason, who launches his own investigation into the crime that killed his daughter, every time you think you know exactly what happened and why, Scottoline throws a new twist into the mix. The entire novel is told from Jason’s perspective, and his guilt and horror at not protecting his family inform a lot of the narrative. He already has lost one relative, and he refuses to condemn the others to a life without hope or safety. Slowly, but ever so satisfyingly, his grief and pain morph into grit and determination.

Jason becomes a one-man investigative team, a father-turned-vigilante hell-bent on justice. The mystery of his daughter’s death is relentless, but more than that, it is tightly plotted and creatively constructed. I never guessed what would happen next, and every time I thought I found a plot hole or loose end, Scottoline filled it brilliantly with even more shocking reveals. She doesn’t let up with the twists, and in fact matches them at every turn with believable, resonant character development and surprisingly poignant musings on grief, marriage and justice.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit that this is my first Lisa Scottoline book, but I’m proud to say that when I finished WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BENNETTS at 2am after a single sitting, I immediately hopped online to buy more of her books. Her latest is not only a must-read; it’s a cancel-all-your-plans read.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on April 1, 2022

What Happened to the Bennetts
by Lisa Scottoline

  • Publication Date: August 9, 2022
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 0525539751
  • ISBN-13: 9780525539759