The Man on the Train by Debbie Babitt
“It was as if time had stopped when the body was dragged from the ocean. The intervening years erased, the clock frozen on the moment that shattered the tranquility of their sleepy hamlet all those years ago.”
In the small hamlet of Manatawkett, on the east end of Long Island, questions about an unsolved murder from 1984 resurface with the discovery of another body in the waters at the bottom of the decaying lighthouse. Right from the start, the reader is captivated by the escalating suspense of the story as it flawlessly seesaws between the present and the past. In The Man on the Train, Ms. Babitt creates a thrilling tale of deception, murder, cover-up, suspicion, and revenge.
Early one morning, two police officers awaken Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Linda Haley as they bang on the door of her Scarsdale, NY home. Realizing her husband Guy isn’t home, she wonders if he ever came home last night. She knows that Guy has been preoccupied with the upcoming anniversary of his mother’s death and his general unhappiness with his job, but what she doesn’t know, is that her husband has been living a secret life during his daily commute into the city.
Upon opening the door to her early morning visitors, Linda is informed that Guy is the prime suspect in a brutal murder. Not only could this news derail her high-powered career, but what’s even more disturbing is that it may also be connected to a cold case. And now, Guy has disappeared.
With no communications from Guy, Linda attempts to gather information about the case. However, as expected, her boss takes Linda off all of her cases and forbids her from getting involved in this murder case.
Not one to take a back seat, especially where her husband is concerned, Linda enlists the assistance of her friend Pete, who is also the detective she works with. They gather whatever information they can get their hands on and begin to put the pieces together. Following a hunch, Linda and Pete travel to the scene of the forty-year-old unsolved murder which shattered the serenity of the Mantawkett fishing hamlet on the eastern end of Long Island. (Although it’s set on the east end of LI with some references to Montauk, the story and town is fictional.)
As the pair search for evidence that could clear Guy’s name, the manhunt intensifies. Ultimately, as Linda begins to uncover shocking truths, including the past Guy has never shared with her, she must decide if the man she married is actually a stranger and if he’s innocent or guilty.
Babitt’s ability to develop the characters and plot with minimal fluff keeps the action moving along at a good pace. She creatively weaves this intriguing story with numerous twists and turns indicative of a good thriller, cleverly unfolding details while also dropping a few red herrings, leaving the reader trying to keep up- a definite page turner.
Really enjoying this book, I’m looking forward to reading her other two: Saving Grace and First Victim. While corresponding with Debbie, I asked her about her choice of settings. She said, “I chose the setting because I spend so much time out east, starting when I was a child summering with my parents in Montauk. It was one of my mother’s favorite places, and that has always meant a lot to me. I remember taking the Montauk Lighthouse tour with her, and climbing to the top! That memory has always stayed with me, and as you know, the lighthouse (abandoned for the purposes of the novel) plays a critical dramatic role in the story!”
Debbie Babitt is the author of Saving Grace, named one of the Most Anticipated Thrillers of 2021 by She Reads and voted a Best Debut of 2021 by Suspense magazine. First Victim, her second novel, was a Buzz Book of 2022. Debbie is also the author of “Adventures in Copywriting” that appeared in Making the Perfect Pitch: How to Catch a Literary Agent’s Eye.
May 7 is the publication/launch date for The Man on the Train. Ms. Babitt plans to spend a lot of time in the Hamptons this summer promoting the book: doing book signings at the bookstores, radio interviews, exploring additional author events, and hopefully something in Montauk as well. For additional information go to: https://debbiebabitt.com/
As always, I welcome book/author ideas for upcoming reviews. Please send them to me at email@example.com.