Review: What She Left by T. R. Richmond


Rating: 4.5 Stars

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Thank you, NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for providing this copy in exchange for an honest review.


In this brilliantly modern novel of love, obsession, and revenge, a professor pieces together the life and mysterious death of a former student—and unearths a shocking revelation about her final days.

On a snowy February morning, the body of twenty-five-year-old journalist Alice Salmon washes up on a riverbank south of London. The sudden, shocking death of this beloved local girl becomes a media sensation, and those who knew her struggle to understand what happened to lively, smart, and savvy Alice Salmon. Was it suicide? A tragic accident? Or…murder?

Professor Jeremy Cooke, known around campus as Old Cookie, is an anthropologist nearing the end of his unremarkable academic career. Alice is his former student, and the object of his unhealthy obsession. After her death, he embarks on a final project—a book documenting Alice’s life through the digital and paper trails that survive her: her diaries, letters, Facebook posts, Tweets, and text messages. He collects news articles by and about her; he transcribes old voicemails; he interviews her friends, family, and boyfriends.

Bit by bit, the real Alice—a complicated and vulnerable young woman—springs fully formed from the pages of Cookie’s book…along with a labyrinth of misunderstandings, lies, and secrets that cast suspicion on everyone in her circle—including Jeremy himself.



I just find it incredibly pleasing when an author can so easily pull you in and yet deliberately not show you an absolute picture of a story. In a intricate way we discover what happened to ordinary Alice, who she surrounded herself with, how we are led to believe, it was mysterious death.

You shouldn’t hesitate on picking this one up because of its format. Told from all sorts of files, transcripts, and social media updates by unreliable sources; the closest people to Alice, and watching it all unfold, how it doesn’t fail at creating this complex web of human reaction. It’s all kinds of wonderful.

Staying away from the reglementary pace of events of other mysteries you’ll realize the posts aren’t in chronological order, you’ll be jumping back and forth between fragments of the story, slowly trying to put the pieces together; making it an even bigger enigma.

I loved that What She Left doesn’t shy away from showing honest human condition, it makes the reader go through all kinds of emotion, it’ll make you doubt about your feelings for its questionable characters, it’s entertaining, it leaves some of it aspects unsettled, it is up to you to make whatever you want of it.


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T. R. Richmond is an award-wining journalist who has written for local, regional and national newspapers, magazines and websites.

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