The Right Side
by Spencer Quinn
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Atria Books (June 27, 2017)
In this riveting new novel by the New York Times bestselling author of the Chet and Bernie mystery series, a deeply damaged female soldier home from the war in Afghanistan becomes obsessed with finding a missing girl, gains an unlikely ally in a stray dog, and encounters new perils beyond the combat zone.
LeAnne Hogan went to Afghanistan as a rising star in the military, and came back a much lesser person, mentally and physically. Now missing an eye and with half her face badly scarred, she can barely remember the disastrous desert operation that almost killed her. She is confused, angry, and suspects the fault is hers, even though nobody will come out and say it.
Shattered by one last blow—the sudden death of her hospital roommate, Marci—LeAnne finds herself on a fateful drive across the country, reflecting on her past and seeing no future. Her native land is now unfamiliar, recast in shadow by her one good eye, her damaged psyche, her weakened body. Arriving in the rain-soaked small town in Washington State that Marci had called home, she makes a troubling discovery: Marci’s eight-year-old daughter has vanished. When a stray dog—a powerful, dark, unreadable creature, no one’s idea of a pet—seems to adopt LeAnne, a surprising connection is formed and something shifts inside her. As she becomes obsessed with finding Marci’s daughter, LeAnne and her inscrutable canine companion are drawn into danger as dark and menacing as her last Afghan mission. This time she has a strange but loyal fellow traveler protecting her blind side.
Enthralling, suspenseful, and psychologically nuanced, The Right Side introduces one of the most unforgettable protagonists in modern fiction: isolated, broken, disillusioned—yet still seeking redemption and purpose—LeAnne takes hold of the reader and never lets go.
“Brilliant. Deeply felt, but totally under control. I loved it.” (Stephen King)
“A great suspense novel, and so much more. You won’t forget the heroic LeAnne Hogan — and the same goes for her dog! Not to be missed.” (Harlan Coben)
“Perfectly detailed…Quinn realistically depicts the way civilians fail to comprehend a warrior’s mindset. The despondency of PTSD [is] portrayed with such brutal intensity…a psychological drama.” (Kirkus)
Visit the publisher’s website for more information about The Right Side, including a Reading Group Guide.
My high school coach always said morons make the same mistake twice and smart people make new ones.
LeAnne shouldered her duffel, kicked her boots to the back of the closet, left the uniforms on the rail. She closed the closet door, trapping Afghanistan in there, like a tiny battlefield.
The leash, still connected to the dog’s collar, lay on the ground. The dog snapped it up between her teeth and came closer, swinging her head back and forth, brandishing the leash, giving orders. There was no other interpretation possible. ‘I had a drill sergeant a lot like you,’ LeAnne said. She took the leash, and they continued on the long straightaway. ‘Except not nearly so good looking.’
Facts stirred down deep in LeAnne’s mind, like they were digging themselves up from under the ground.
The Right Side was an extremely clever title as the phrase applied on several levels of this nuanced and well-crafted tale. Never judge a book by the cover – the storyline was next to nothing of what I had expected, much to my unending delight. I was totally engrossed in the writing and fascinated by the complexity and development of the characters and storyline, both were unpredictable and indefatigably entertaining. I savored this wily writer’s main character of LeAnne, she was smart and snarky, and had been reared by her Green Beret father to be a tough cookie. However, a failed mission left her with life-long consequences and struggling with crippling pain, PTSD, and multiple medical issues including a head injury and a scrambled brain. LeAnne’s memory sparked on and off, as did her attention span, frustration tolerance, impulse control, and the filter between her brain and tongue. Her mind was a bit of a quagmire and would drift at inopportune times and wander into comical visuals of doing or saying outlandish things, although unfortunately, she was also prone to occasionally voicing these errant or cartoonish thoughts aloud without realizing. However, I cannot imagine anything more disheartening than to be on the cusp of solving a puzzle but to totally lose the train of thought in a dead end or fragmented jumble.
Midway through the book LeAnne had made a cross-country road trip and was deeply embroiled in a mystery and the family issues of her last hospital roommate. Finding an abandoned stray dog led to her deliverance and assisted in her recovery, although the dog had initially presented a vexing problem, as LeAnne had never cared to have a pet, yet couldn’t bring herself to leave the oddly behaving dog at a kill shelter. I am a complete sucker for animals and I totally adored this ingenious dog. The storyline was relevant, well-paced, intriguing, and thoughtfully constructed, while the writing was creative, well detailed, emotive, highly engaging, and cleverly executed. The Right Side was my first Spencer Quinn experience and one I plan to repeat again and again.
Spencer Quinn is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the ongoing Chet and Bernie mystery series, as well as the bestselling Bowser and Birdie series for middle-grade readers. He lives on Cape Cod with his wife Diana—and dogs Audrey and Pearl. Keep up with him by visiting SpenceQuinn.com.