Crime Mystery Thriller

What Rose Forgot – Nevada Barr

5 September 2019
What Rose Forgot Book Cover What Rose Forgot
Nevada Barr
Wheeler Publishing, Incorporated
October 2, 2019

Rose Dennis wakes up in a hospital gown, her brain in a fog, only to discover that she's been committed to an Alzheimer's Unit in a nursing home. With no memory of how she ended up in this position, Rose is sure that something is very wrong. When she overhears one of the administrators saying about her that she's "not making it through the week," Rose is convinced that if she's to survive, she has to get out of the nursing home. She avoids taking her medication, putting on a show for the aides, then stages her escape.

The only problem is―how does she convince anyone that she's not actually demented? Her relatives were the ones to commit her, all the legal papers were drawn up, the authorities are on the side of the nursing home, and even she isn't sure she sounds completely sane. But any lingering doubt Rose herself might have had is erased when a would-be killer shows up in her house in the middle of the night. Now Rose knows that someone is determined to get rid of her.

With the help of her computer hacker/recluse sister Marion, thirteen-year-old granddaughter Mel, and Mel's friend Royal, Rose begins to gather her strength and fight back―to find out who is after her and take back control of her own life. But someone out there is still determined to kill Rose, and they're holding all the cards.


What Rose Forgot is an entertaining novel packed with full-on action and suspense, with splashes of humour that make this a wonderful read. What struck me was just how quickly this novel had hold of me and totally consumed the hours until I finished reading. The writing is very perceptive and paints wonderful scenes, a mysterious plot and clever witty dialogue, while the story moves at a great momentum.

Rose Dennis awakens in a wood, confused, disorientated and wearing just a hospital gown. Her first thoughts are, is this a dream? Then very slowly she regains some perspective although her memories are scrambled, fractured and missing. Two young boys find her and assume she has wandered from the nearby Nursing Home. They inform the facility, who have been searching for Rose and manage to have her returned. During this period Rose is gradually regaining memories and trying desperately to piece together, who, when, why and how she has been committed to the Memory Care Unit at Longwood.

I loved the careful development with the situation Rose finds herself in. Does she suffer from dementia, as the facility suggests, and this is just a moment of lucidity or is she actually rational and somehow a mistake has been made? Her questioning of her state of mind and quizzical searching for how and why she has arrived at this place surely isn’t the thinking from someone living with dementia.

Rose makes a decision that she will not ingest the drugs offered to her anymore and covertly hides the tablets and continues to act out her assumed mental state while she gathers information and plans her escape. Regardless of plot plausibility, the believability of Rose’s mental turmoil is very well delivered and the reality as it comes into focus is really heartening.

‘ “Here’s the thing, since I’ve stopped taking the red capsules, my mind has gotten much clearer. I think I’m being intentionally drugged.”
“For how long?”
“Yesterday, of course. Before that . . .” There is no before that. Not yet.’

Rose escapes again but this time with a clearer mindset and a plan which involves her granddaughter Mel and her sister Marion. There are some other strange relationships developed as Rose navigates the sinister machinations that seem intent on causing her death. Who would want her dead and of course following the money leads to the family? Although it’s not just as obvious as that.

The story is gripping and the adventure Rose goes on with Mel, is enthralling and builds with us eagerly straining to find out who is behind the conspiracy. The plot credibility issues and convenience, are masked by the entertaining scenarios and witty moments that are maintained at a relentless pace.

I would recommend reading this book and I’d like to thank St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC version in return for an honest review.

Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley

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