Rose McKeena was working as a volunteer “lunch mom” the day her daughter’s elementary school exploded. Melly, a sweet, shy third grader, was born with a portwine stain birthmark that acts like a bull’s eye for the school bullies. When the tragedy happened, Rose was trying to talk to the girls who were picking on her daughter and had sent her fleeing the cafeteria to hide in the bathroom. This left rose in the unenviable position of having to choose between seeing the mean girls to safety or saving her own child’s life.
Acting swiftly, Rose escorted the girls to what she thought was safety, to a hallway where a teacher was supervising evacuation, and then ran to save Melly. But Amanda, the ringleader, unbeknownst to Rose, ran back into the cafeteria to retrieve her iPod and was injured.
At first Rose is lauded as a hero—five minutes more in the smoke-filled bathroom and Melly would have died—but then accusations arise, and Amanda’s mom blames Rose for her daughter’s injuries. As the press digs in, and there is talk of a trial, secrets from Rose’s past emerge and the strain begins to tell on her marriage.
This was my first Lisa Scottoline novel, so I don’t know if this is typical of her, but if she had continued in this same vein I think I would have enjoyed the book far more. I thought it was an engrossing drama about a woman’s whole life turned upside down by a tragedy and was eager to see how it would all turn out. But then it all changed. When the plot turned to a conspiracy about chocolate-filled pretzel nuggets being made on equipment contaminated by peanuts at the big multimillion dollar snack food company that employs many locals, a cover-up, bribery, and the explosion at the school being a failed attempt on the life of a senator’s pregnant mistress who is the special education teacher there, I just wanted to get off the roller coaster.