BOOK OF THE DAY

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Under My Skin
By Lisa Unger

Park Row
$26.99
ISBN 978-07788308409
Publication Date: October 2018

 

UNDER MY SKIN

Review by Danny Lindsey

 

Lisa Unger’s latest, Under My Skin (Park Row Books, 2018), is dark, deep, and full of desperation. Poppy Lang has come unglued. In the year since her husband was murdered while on his morning run she has vacillated between guilt (for staying in and letting him run alone), grief (he’s ever-present in her life, still), and periods of blackout, paranoia, and hallucination. In short, she’s a total mess.

            On top of all that, someone is stalking her. She thinks. The tall man with a hood is ephemeral, much like her dreams and wakeful visions of Jack. Is he really there? She thinks so, but the detective assigned to investigate Jack’s murder isn’t so sure. Neither is her best friend or her therapist. He first appeared to her in the time immediately after Jack’s funeral, the time she can’t remember or account for, except in stray snatches of flashback. Did I mention that she’s a mess?

            Unger’s tale is that of a tortured soul who is wrestling with both her ghosts and her sanity. After a year she still finds herself running to the controlling arms of her best friend all too frequently, and ingesting a mixture of pills from her friend’s stash along with those prescribed by her therapist. Adding alcohol is always a bad idea, but unconsciousness is preferential to mental anguish.

            It’s difficult to imagine that Unger could create Poppy from thin air. Most would have had to experience the fractured inner world related in the first person by Poppy to be able to share it in print, but Lisa pulls it off in stellar fashion. It’s my first experience with this writer, but certainly not my last. I especially enjoyed the introspective nuggets buried here and there: “Grief can be so myopic. You forget about what other people have lost.” And about her and Jack: “How well do we really ever know each other?”

Danny Lindsey keeps trying to retire. After a 20-year Army career and a 25-year second one in the private sector, he’s finally settled down. His current gig is as the Veteran Employment Services Manager for a Huntsville, A.L.  based non-profit, Still Serving Veterans. Both full careers were characterized by numerous writing assignments, from war plans to operating policies and procedures, then on to white papers, analyses of alternatives and competitive contract and grant proposals. Now his writing consists of blogs for the website www.ssv.org, podcasts for the local NPR affiliate, and a half dozen Pulitzer-worthy, albeit unpublished novels.

Update:  Danny’s 2017 Claymore Award winning manuscript Serial Justice is now available on Amazon!