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And Then There Was One
by Patricia Gussin

Published: 2010-10-04
Kindle Edition : 312 pages
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One is the loneliest number.Nine years ago, Katie and Scott Monroe were blessed beyond their wildest dreams with identical triplets, Sammie, Alex, and Jackie. Three beautiful daughters and two adoring parents formed the picture-perfect party of five. But this tight-knit family unravels when the ...
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One is the loneliest number.Nine years ago, Katie and Scott Monroe were blessed beyond their wildest dreams with identical triplets, Sammie, Alex, and Jackie. Three beautiful daughters and two adoring parents formed the picture-perfect party of five. But this tight-knit family unravels when the three little girls go to see a movie, but only one emerges from the darkness of the theatre. How could Sammie and Alex vanish without a trace?Plunged into the abyss of a parent's worst fear, Katie and Scott hang by a thread-waiting, worrying, not knowing, and confronting the terrifying realization that the kidnapping may not have been a random act.Who took Sammie and Alex? Why? Where are they? When will they be found? And what if they're never found, or not found alive? When Jackie, the remaining triplet, crumbles under the weight of grief and survivor's guilt, Katie and Scott struggle to hold out hope and hold on to what remains of their family.Until-or unless-Sammie and Alex are found safe, this picture-perfect family can't be put back together again.

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Discussion Questions

Compare and contrast Katie's and Scott's reaction to the apparent abduction of two of their three daughters. Did their reactions anger you? Disappoint you? Which seemed to be handling the tragedy more aptly?

Did you find the parents' mix of denial, stoicism, histrionics, logic, despair and hope realistic to the circumstances

Were you worried about Jackie from the beginning? Did you expect more of a mom who is a doctor?

Do you think the story was more about what happened to Sammy and Alex or about how Katie, Scott, and Jackie reacted?

Do you think that modern parents are overprotective? Or underprotective? Did you blame either parent for letting the nine year olds go to a movie theatre with a nineteen year old cousin?

Do you have any sympathy for the kidnapper who was revealed during the story? Or for the suspects along the way? Did you think that he kidnapping had inter-racial implications as the story progressed?

Did you find the personalities of the three girls realistic for identical triplets and distinctive enough?

Had you been one of the Monroe parents, what would you have done differently?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Note from author Patricia Gussin:

And Then There Was One focuses on the Monroe parents, Scott and Katie, two professionals, genuinely good parents, who face a tragedy beyond their imagination. How will they react? How could anyone predict how he or she would react? Katie is a psychiatrist; because she is a doctor, will she be held to a higher standard? Where are the two missing nine year old girls? Will they be okay? And what about the third, safe triplet as the search for her sisters takes front and center stage.

What I want to examine in And Then There Was One, is the concept that we never know how we will react to extreme terror; our vulnerability recognizing that all can change in the blink of an eye; and on a more practical level, how vigilant parents must be while striking a balance between over and under caution.

Q&A with Author Patricia Gussin:

Tell us a little about yourself and your novel?

And Then There Was One is my fourth novel. Like the others, it’s a thriller and exploits the most basic of

fears, a family torn apart by tragedy. Before becoming a writer, I was a physician (and I still am) and the

mother of seven (I still am that, too.)

What inspired you to write And Then There Was One?

I was driving down Route 41 in Sarasota one afternoon and noticed a woman pushing a double stroller. In

the stroller were two toddlers who looked to be twins. Walking along side the stroller was a child who also

looked to be the same age and who seemed identical in appearance to the two in the stroller. Could they be identical triplets? And why was one walking while the others were being pushed? My next thought: What would happen if two of identical triplets were abducted, leaving only one?

How did you use your life experience or professional background to enrich your story?

Being the mother of seven, I’m always thinking about family dynamics. How the circumstances and the

personalities of various siblings affect the others. In And Then There Was One, each of the Monroe sisters has a unique personality. And those distinct personalities drive the ultimate outcome of the story. Being a physician, although not a pediatric forensic psychiatrist as is the triplet’s mother, I have a pretty good idea of the stresses of a medical career in the midst of raising a family. So I’m sure that a lot of my insights have made their way into the story.

Are any characters based on people you know?

As is the case with most novels, my characters are a composite. And Then There Was One highlights the

modern parents, those who are a little older when their first child is born and who tend to very child-centric. But the Monroes have an additional feature, they are a biracial couple, and that, in some ways, ups the stakes. As for the plethora of villains, they, too, are a composite of the reality of evil people out there in our world. The Monroe girls’ parents, however, may be somewhat familiar to readers of Shadow of Death: Scott Monroe, a nephew of David Monroe, and Katie Monroe, formerly Jones, Lucy Jones’s youngest daughter.

Would you say that And Then There Was One is more plot driven or character driven?

I believe that And Then There Was One may be slightly more character driven than plot driven, but the plot is solid, and very importantly, for a thriller, the pace is fast.

Who is your favorite or most sympathetic character? Why?

Jackie Monroe. The little girl is so lost in the terror and paranoia and the turmoil of roiling emotions as the

desperate search for her sisters takes front and center stage.

Who is your least sympathetic character? Why?

Maxwell Cutty. Here we have a truly evil man.

What part of writing And Then There Was One did you find the most challenging?

Developing Katie Monroe as a sympathetic character was difficult. I wanted to have a strong, obviously

accomplished, intelligent woman. But who knows what can happen to such a woman when faced with the

abduction of two of her daughters? Would she hold up in order to help the FBI’s investigation? Would she

disintegrate into a million broken pieces? Would she be histrionic? Or would she withdraw completely

within herself. This was a struggle for me to come up with the right balance, as I don’t think anyone can

predict a mother’s reaction to the loss of her children.

What do you hope that readers will take away from And Then There Was One?

I hope that readers take away a deeper appreciation for the family unit and a realization of just how

precious their children are and how vigilant we as parents must be. I’d also like the reader to enjoy this

book so much that they can’t wait for my next one!

What writers have inspired you?

Sidney Sheldon has always been a favorite, and my novel, The Test, in Publishers Weekly was compared to him; such a wonderful commendation. But in addition to the thriller genre, I have been inspired by other novelists who focus on family; Wilbur Smith and Barbara Tayler Bradford, to name a couple.

What is the writing process like for you?

Like everything else in my life, writing is chaotic. I’m used to juggling a lot of activities, but I find that the

most important thing is that you stay focused in the moment. When I’m at home, I’m a mom (and now a

grandmother). When I’m in the clinic, I’m a doctor. When I’m writing, I’m in my character’s head. Now

that’s a scary thought.

Any final words you would like to say about yourself, your novels, or life in general?

Yes. There’s one more book, What’s Next…For You?, that I co-authored with my husband, Robert Gussin. What’s Next…For You? is non-fiction and tells the story of how Bob and I transitioned our life from medicine and research to wine and books. True story this time, a he-said, she-said sort of thing. Moving in the right direction, we say. And it makes sense; it takes a lot of wine to write a good book.

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