BOOK REVIEW: ‘He’s Gone’: Complexities of Marriage, Divorce, Infidelities Examined in Debut Adult Novel

  • Reviewed by David M. KinchenBOOK REVIEW: 'He's Gone': Complexities of Marriage, Divorce, Infidelities Examined in Debut Adult Novel

My adventures in chick lit continue with a novel by Deb Caletti, “He’s Gone” (Bantam trade paperback, 352 pages, $15.00) that will inevitably be compared to Gillian Flynn’s bestselling novel “Gone Girl.”

Instead of Flynn’s missing wife, Caletti deals with Seattle software executive Ian Keller, the missing husband of Dani Keller. The similarities between the two novels include a questioning, eventually dubious police officer and a piling on of people who believe Dani — the “other woman” widely believed to be responsible for the breakup of Ian’s marriage to Mary — has something to do with her husband  missing after a Saturday night party at his business.

The physical setting is one familiar to people who’ve seen the movie “Sleepless in Seattle” : the houseboats on Lake Union that don’t go anywhere.

I’m using the term “chick lit” in a humorous manner: “He’s Gone”, the adult novel debut of best-selling young adult author Caletti, should appeal to men as well as women. Should but probably won’t since more women will gravitate toward it than men. Women buy more books than men.

Dani Keller wakes on the Sunday morning after a party at    BetterWorks, Ian’s software company, that aside from Dani’s slight hangover, is like any other corporate function. The difference this time is no Ian Keller.  His black Jaguar is in its usual parking space, but there’s no sign of Ian.

Dani, who has a low tolerance toward alcohol, doesn’t remember much about the party, other than there was a minor argument.

She’s concerned, and this worsens as  Ian stays missing. The family organizes a search effort to supplement that of the police. I was surprised to see police moving in so quickly; usually they tell the husband or wife to wait a few days. This leads me to believe that Detective Vince Jackson intuits that Dani isn’t telling him everything she knows about the circumstances surrounding Ian’s disappearance.

Reality slams into Dani as she goes over in her mind her relationship with her often abusive former husband Mark Hastings and the attraction she developed toward Ian. Her daughter Abby, her mom, Ian’s daughters with  Mary Keller — his ex-wife who’s kept her married name — all contribute in various ways to Dani’s introspective look into her two marriages.  There’s guilt enough to go around  for everybody in this tale.

Caletti has done a beautiful job of examining relationships in “He’s Gone.” I’ll stop here and of course won’t reveal the outcome. If you like books by Jodi Picoult and Nancy Thayer — to name just two writers — I think you’ll love this book.

About the author
Deb Caletti is an award-winning author and a National Book Award finalist whose books—Honey, Baby, Sweetheart; The Queen of Everything; The Secret Life of Prince Charming—are published and translated worldwide. She lives with her family in Seattle. Read an excerpt from “He’s Gone” on Her website:


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