Crimes from the past wreak havoc in the present in three new releases. In Jennifer McMahon’s “The One I Left Behind,” Vera Dufrane turns up in a homeless shelter 25 years after she was abducted by a serial killer. Vera, once featured in ads as the Aphrodite Cold Cream girl, was a blowzy blonde who lived off the men she picked up in bars when she disappeared; now she’s barely recognizable, incoherent, and ill. Her daughter Reggie, just 13 when Vera was taken, always believed she was killed. Now Reggie returns to the Connecticut bedroom town where her austere aunt took her in and raised her, needing to reconnect with her mother and determined to find out what happened.
The novel takes us back to the summer Vera disappeared. She was thought to be the fourth woman abducted by a killer the police called “Neptune.” He left his victims’ severed right hands, like his calling card, on the steps of the police station. Five days later their dead bodies would be found — except for Vera.