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A beautiful young woman walks into a Long Island diner and shoots five people in a seemingly random act of violence. She is convicted and sentenced to life in prison without revealing any of the reasons why she did it.

Eventually the woman, Elizabeth Turnin contacts one of the survivors through the mail in order to apologize. He was the key witness at her trial, the man she let live.

Gary Winters starts a correspondence with her which eventually leads him to visit the prison. She has promised to tell him the truth about what happened.

As the story unfolds in alternating chapters between Gary and Elizabeth we begin to learn about her life before the shooting. An abusive religious upbringing and her inability to have lasting relationships with men. When she finally meets someone she could love, she has a glimpse of a normal happy future. But the seemingly ideal relationship eventually starts to unravel. Things begin to change. Adoration turns to obsession. Secrets are revealed, nobody is what they appear to be.

Elizabeth desperately clings to the possibility of love and falls further and further into a series of events that start to spin out of her control leading to the massacre at the diner.

The slow revelation of the complex motives for such an act of violence builds to a shocking conclusion in this devastating psychological thriller.


  I read Donald McLean's memoir Unraveling Charlie and found it fascinating. Afterward I looked to see if he had written more and found this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Elizabeth and found that I couldn't put it down - even staying up until 3 am last night reading it. This book gives a lot of insight into relationships and the conversations are well-written.