Review of What Rose Forgot

What Rose Forgot

Nevada Barr

September 17, 2019

Minotaur Books

St. Martin’s Press


In New York Times bestselling author Nevada Barr’s gripping standalone, a grandmother in her sixties emerges from a mental fog to find she’s trapped in her worst nightmare

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.

Amazon purchase link: What Rose Forgot

What Rose Forgot by Nevada Barr read like two novels in one: the before and the after.

The before is a frightening story of what happens when an older person loses control of their life through no fault of their own. How they can be manipulated. How they can be placed in a facility and kept on drugs that reduce their mental faculties. (Mind you, this can also be done to anyone who is deemed mentally incompetent.)

The after is what happens when that older woman escapes the facility, is aided by her precocious granddaughter, and begins to turn things on their ear.

The first part of the novel is frightening and the second part reminded me of a cozy and humorous mystery series from the 1960/70s (I can neither remember the title, author, nor when it was exactly written) about two old ladies who have funny adventures and solve mysteries. If you remember what that series might be, let me know.

However, Barr’s What Rose Forgot is not exactly a cozy mystery; it’s far more smartly written than that and embarks on minor philosophical and political thought that might now be for everyone. (The bad reviews seemed to be from folks whose political/philosophical persuasions were of a different ilk.)

I enjoyed What Rose Forgot. I liked that a feisty older woman could survive, manipulate criminals, and a system and population that makes older people feel as if they are unimportant or, perhaps worse, non-existent.

Barr’s writing is, as always, well done with the pacing just fast enough to keep the reader swishing those pages. The plotting was also good. While an event here or there might have tested credibility, I was willing to go along.

The relationship between Rose and her granddaughter, Mel, was magical. They shared a great sense of humor. In fact, I loved how much humor Barr integrated into the last third of the book with interactions between Rose and Rose’s older sister, Marion, an anti-social computer guru, as well as Mel and Royal, Mel’s good friend, and another character who will go unmentioned because—spoiler.

If you are a Nevada Barr fan of her Anna Pigeon mysteries, you may enjoy What Rose Forgot, although, except for the beginning few chapters, What Rose Forgot is not as hard-edged as the Anna Pigeon mysteries.

If you’re new to Nevada Barr, like mysteries about an older heroine kicking ass, doing some perhaps super-hero shenanigans, then you might enjoy this book.

If you are given to rants over political content with which you disagree and cannot read beyond those interjections, save yourself high blood pressure and pass this one by.

Does that cover it? I think so.

I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.



4 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5 butterflies

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