From the Publisher
"The elements of Hollywood moviemaking and tabloid hedonism blend nicely with the desperate franticness of, say, S. J. Watson's Before I Go to Sleep" - Booklist
"Poignantly written with a mystery at its center, Lehr's latest explores the lengths a mother will go for her child. ... a worthwhile read." - RT Book Reviews
""Almost impossible to put down. ... What a Mother Knows is an intense and emotional rollercoaster ride." - Long and Short Reviews" - Long and Short Reviews
"The story of the strong and unwavering bond between a mother and her child, What a Mother Knows is the perfect novel to give to mom." - SheKnows
"A strong suspenser" - The Toronto Star
Coming home from the hospital after a lengthy recovery from a near-fatal car crash, Michelle realizes that the biggest challenge of her life awaits her. Her physical recovery is nearly complete, although she has lost the feeling in her right arm and her memory is somewhat lacking. Despite her husband’s efforts to keep her in the dark, she soon learns that her daughter is missing. Michelle is being sued by those who hold her responsible for the crash and the resulting death of a budding rock star, but she will not rest until she has found her daughterno matter what the cost is to her own well-being.
Verdict Lehr’s well-written second novel (after Wife Goes On) is infused with the palpable urgency of a mother who has been separated from her child. This suspenseful mother/daughter tale will attract readers who enjoy the domestic dramas of Jodi Picoult, Kristin Hannah, and Gillian Flynn.Karen Core, Detroit P.L.
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A woman awakes from an extended coma to find her world utterly changed. Coming home from the hospital, LA producer Michelle gradually learns some awful truths about the car accident which impaired her memory and crippled her right arm. Most alarmingly, 19-year-old Noah (her son Tyler's pitching coach) died in the crash after Michelle's SUV slid off the road into Topanga Canyon--and Michelle has no idea what he was doing in her car. Her husband, sound engineer Drew, has relocated to New York, where he's enrolled Tyler in prep school. And daughter Nikki is missing. Michelle is being sued by Noah's parents for wrongful death, and her own lawsuit against the SUV manufacturer is undermined by the fact she may have ignored a seat belt recall notice. Her family has been virtually bankrupted by her medical expenses and cannot afford to pay her attorney. Since she has zero recollection of either the accident or the events surrounding it, Michelle launches her own investigation, which she hopes will also lead her to Nikki's whereabouts. She pieces together a progressively more complex scenario: Noah was well on the way to rock stardom when he died; Michelle herself had, pro bono, produced a video for his band, Roadhouse. In fact, her former Hollywood colleagues have seemingly turned on her and are making a biopic about Noah that may prejudice the outcome of the lawsuits. A Roadhouse groupie produces a photo card containing shots showing Nikki and Noah kissing. This takes some of the onus off Michelle (whose cougardom some gossips were blaming for Noah's presence in her car). Now that Nikki could be a material witness, it is even more imperative that Michelle track her down. A postcard sent to Noah's mother from Hawaii provides the first tangible clue, which lures Michelle to Maui. Despite the intriguing premise, the disjointed and meandering narrative and phoned-in prose tamp down both suspense and forward momentum. A would-be thriller in dire need of a script doctor.
Read an Excerpt
No one saw the deadly crash in the canyon on that gray October morning. The weather was strange, an out-of-season sprinkle from the coastal fog drifting inland. Soggy hitchhikers huddling under the umbrella of an ancient oak tree were the last to see the black SUV as it hydroplaned past them into the Santa Monica Mountains. A muffled bass beat trailed as it climbed the winding lane, up and around the evergreen scrub, until it disappeared in the forest crowning the coastal range. A mile farther, at the lovers' lookout above the vast checkerboard of Valley streets, tire tracks puddled with mud were the only signs of human life.
As the headlights tunneled into the mist, no one noticed how the worn wipers flailed at the thrumming rain, how they blocked the bird's-eye view of the gorge that inspired the Tongva name "Topanga," a place above. No one could testify how the engine groaned as it climbed that ear-popping stretch of sacred land. Or how the vehicle veered around the dizzying curve, spraying water over the edge of the rocky cliff.
When a coyote streaked past to scale the hillside, the bumper dipped into a flooded pothole. Bright headlights bobbed across a plywood peace sign, then lit a tall pole flying a plaster pig toward heaven. A few yards farther, the beams flashed across the ruins of a legendary roadhouse like the spotlights of decades past. Echoes of Arlo Guthrie and Neil Young lingered in the air, but it was Jim Morrison's tribute that haunted the highway beyond. "Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel...Let it roll, baby, roll."
The Explorer dove off the cliff. Airborne, the bass boomed louder and reverberated across the canyon, accompanying a chorus of screams. It crashed against a scrubby ledge, then spun through the shower of pine needles, shredded branches and shards of broken grill, hurtling down, down, down, ribs snapping against the steering wheel, head splitting on the dashboard, music still blaring until the SUV smashed against the rock wall, shearing off the side mirror, shattering the window, shooting out into the ravine where the chassis flipped. The car exploded into the creek bed, airbags popping, bones cracking, flesh tearing, as the two ton cage of steel folded like origami into the mud.
When the sky cleared, the canyon Cub Scout troop began its weekly hike. They wandered out from the willows lining the flooded creek as the last plumes of smoke rose from the smoldering wreckage. Crows hidden in the hillside canopy flew out in a dark feathered cloud. A rabbit burrowed into his den beneath a steaming puddle of blood. Soon, sirens wailed in the distance.
By afternoon, the muddy canyon was clogged with emergency vehicles. The sky pulsed with the thwack-thwack-thwack of news helicopters circling for a story. Reporters soon pieced together the who, what, when, and where. But no one could explain the why. The only witness was trapped inside.