The Real Justine
"Reality simmers and blurs before becoming sharply clarified on the last page of this compelling novel.
Michael Coolidge can’t get over Justine; they meet in a bar, spend four intimate days together, then she disappears. Nine months later, he spots her, in a violent argument with a man, and the next day the same man—a photographer of some note—is found dead of a drug overdose. Armed only with some photographs of her, Coolidge eventually zeros in on his mystery woman and learns that virtually everything she told him about herself is untrue. Justine now claims that a powerful man damaged her badly in her teens and has hurt other girls in the same way, a story she wants to take public with Coolidge’s help. But everything he learns from others—parents, teacher, doctor—indicates that she is mentally ill and delusional. And Coolidge’s background—notably, being fired from a prominent nonprofit for misallocating funds in an attempt to do what was right—also proves to be an impediment to going public. Amidon (Human Capital, 2004) builds suspense relentlessly to a climax that’s not easily forgotten in this masterful exploration of discerning the truth."
— Michele Leber Booklist - Starred Review
"The haunted search for a missing, mysterious lover is a well-worn trope in thrillers, but to Amidon’s credit he sustains what actors call 'the illusion of the first time' — the impression that you’re saying for the first time a line you’ve said a hundred times. With 'The Real Justine,' we read as if we haven’t read this sort of thing many times before."
— Gerald Bartell Washington Post
"La 'donna misteriosas' di Stephen Amidon" - Masolino D'Amico La Stampa