Bestselling and award-winning
author Lisa Unger returns with her best novel yet. Reminiscent of the classic Strangers
on a Train, Confessions on the 7:45 is a riveting psychological thriller
that begins with a chance encounter on a commuter train and shows why you
should never, ever make conversation with strangers.
Be careful who you tell your darkest secrets...
Selena Murphy is commuting home from her job in the city
when the train stalls out on the tracks. She strikes up a conversation with a
beautiful stranger in the next seat, and their connection is fast and easy. The
woman introduces herself as Martha and confesses that she's been stuck in an
affair with her boss. Selena, in turn, confesses that she suspects her husband
is sleeping with the nanny. When the train arrives at Selena's station, the two
women part ways, presumably never to meet again.
But days later, Selena's nanny disappears.
Soon Selena finds her once-perfect life upended. As she is
pulled into the mystery of the missing nanny, and as the fractures in her
marriage grow deeper, Selena begins to wonder, who was Martha really? But she
is hardly prepared for what she'll discover.
Expertly plotted and reminiscent of the timeless classic Strangers on a Train, Confessions on the 7:45 is a stunning web of lies and deceit, and a gripping thriller about the delicate facades we create around our lives.
About the Author
Lisa Unger is
the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of
eighteen novels, including CONFESSIONS ON THE 7:45 (Oct. 2020). With millions
of readers worldwide and books published in twenty-six languages, Unger is
widely regarded as a master of suspense. Her critically acclaimed books
have been voted "Best of the Year" or top picks by the Today
show, Good Morning America, Entertainment Weekly, Amazon, IndieBound and
others. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, Wall
Street Journal, NPR, and Travel+Leisure. She lives
on the west coast of Florida with her family.
Author Website: https://lisaunger.com/
Q: How do the ideas come to you for these bestsellers?
A: Every novel begins with a germ. A
little zap of interest that starts me on an obsession for a particular topic.
It could be a news story I read, or a sentence I hear or just an image that
inspires me. One time it was even a piece of junk mail! Then, if that obsession
connects to something larger that’s going on with me, I start to hear a voice
or voices.I follow those voices, and they carry me through the narrative.
A: People have a deep and abiding desire,
a need even, to understand themselves and those around them. This includes
having some insight into the darkest aspects of human nature. Crime fiction is
the perfect place to explore some of the big questions people have about what
makes people who they are. Also, in difficult times, crime fiction provides a
story with a beginning, a middle, and an end where some type of justice is
delivered. Not so with the real world. So I think there is some comfort to be
found even in the darkest and most suspenseful novels.
Q: There are so many twists in
the story. Did you know the ending
before you plotted all of the surprises?
A: When I sit down to write, I have no idea what’s going to happen, who’s going to show up or what they’re going to do day to day. And I certainly have no idea how things will end. It’s kind of a crazy way to write a book, but I’ve never done it any other way. I write for the same reason that I read, because I want to know what’s going to happen.
A: I don’t know! I’ve never wanted to be anything other than an author. Psychology has always fascinated me, so maybe being a psychiatrist or counselor.
Q: If Confessions
on the 7:45 were made into a movie, which actors would you choose to play
the lead roles?
A: I would cast Scarlett Johansson as Selena and Gal Gadot as Martha. The supporting cast would be important, too, and Anne Hathaway would be perfect as Geneva and I’d love to see Bradley Cooper as Graham.
A: Any of them! Currently, THE RED HUNTER and UNDER MY SKIN are under options. So fingers crossed there! If I had to choose some others, I’d pick FRAGILE or INK AND BONE. I’d love to see my fictional town The Hollows come to life on the big or small screen.
A: The characters, always. My stories always begin for me with a voice, someone with a story to tell.
A: As most of my characters are, Selena is imperfect. The pressures she experiences from the world around her are matched by those she places on herself. She is struggling, but she also knows she has reserves of strength from which to draw to overcome the obstacles she faces, some of which are catastrophic. I think we’re all stronger and braver than we believe ourselves to be, so when we’re rooting for Selena, we’re really rooting for the warrior within us all.
A: Everything in fiction is autobiographical -- and nothing is! If we’re writing from a deep and authentic place, then all of our experiences, our observations, the people we meet, the situations we observe, the conversations we have and overhear, inform our fiction. Sometimes inspiration comes from the news, from travel, from questions I have about people and the world. My fiction is always influenced by my real life but in really layered and mysterious ways.
Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger has Selena Murphy working hard to support her husband, two boys, and the
nanny. She recently discovered that her
husband and the nanny have been using the boys’ playroom for their own games
thanks to the nanny cam. Selena ends up
on the late train home one evening after work where she meets Martha. The dark night, an unmoving train, and small
bottles of liquor lead to confessions.
Martha confides that she is having an affair with her boss which leads
Selena to tell about her husband’s extracurricular activities. Martha comments to Selena that doesn’t she
just wish that their problems would take care of themselves. Not long after that night, the nanny
disappears. The police zero in on Graham. Selena’s life takes a dark turn. The fun has just begun. Confessions on the 7:45 is a dark, twisty
suspense novel. The story is told from
multiple points-of-view. We get to see
how Selena, Pearl, Martha, a retired detective, and Geneva ended up in their
present circumstances. Each person has
their own reason for doing what they do.
There are hidden pasts, secrets, lies, and motives. Someone is messing with Selena and her life
is falling apart. There are unexpected
twists and surprises along the way. If
you are an avid mystery or suspense reader, you will be able to figure out some
of the events or surprises before they are revealed. But there is still plenty of suspense and
action. I appreciated that all the loose ends are tied up. Confessions on the 7:45 is a well-plotted
story. All the parts tie together into
one complete story. I like how the
author tied the train in to the story reminding me of the movie Strangers on
a Train. Confessions on the 7:45
does contain violence, intimate relations, and foul language (fair warning). Confessions on the 7:45 is a riveting tale
that will have you rapidly turning the pages as you ignore the world around
Please note that this excerpt contains foul language and intimate situations
It had been a
mistake from the beginning and Anne certainly knew that. You don’t sleep with
your boss. It’s really one of the things mothers should teach their daughters.
Chew your food carefully. Look both ways before you cross the street. Don’t
fuck your direct supervisor no matter how hot, rich, or charming he may happen
to be. Not that Anne’s mother had taught her a single useful thing.
Anyway, here she
was. Again. Taking it from behind, over the couch in her boss’s corner office with
those expansive city views. The world was a field of lights spread wide around
them. She tried to enjoy it. But, as was often the case, she just kind of
floated above herself. She made all the right noises, though. She knew how to
“Oh my god, Anne.
You’re so hot.”
He pressed himself
in deep, moaning.
When he’d first
come on to her, she thought he was kidding – or not thinking clearly. They’d
flown together to DC to take an important client who was considering leaving
the investment firm out to dinner. In
the cab on the way back to the hotel -- while Hugh was on the phone with
his wife, he put his hand on Anne’s leg. He wasn’t even looking at Anne when he
did it, so for a moment she wondered if it was just absent-mindedness. He was
like that sometimes, a little loopy. Overly affectionate, familiar. Forgetful.
His hand moved up
her thigh. Anne sat very still. Like a prey animal. Hugh ended the call and she
expected him to jerk his hand back.
Oh! I’m so sorry, Anne, she thought he’d
say, aghast at his careless behavior.
But no. His hand
“Am I misreading signals?” he said, voice
Stop. What most
people would be thinking: Poor Anne! Afraid for her job, she submits to this
What Anne was
thinking: How can I use this to my advantage? She really had been just trying
to do her job well, sort of. But it seemed that Pop was right, as he had been
about so many things. If you weren’t running a game, someone was running one on
subconsciously been putting out signals? Possibly. Yes. Maybe Pop was right
about that, too. You don’t get to stop being what you are, even when you try.
They made out like
prom dates in the cab, comported themselves appropriately as they walked
through the lobby of the Ritz. He pressed against her at the door to her hotel
room. She was glad she was wearing sexy underwear, had shaved her legs.
She’d given Hugh –
with his salt and pepper hair, sinewy muscles, flat abs -- the ride of his life
that night. And many nights since. He
liked her on top. He was a considerate lover, always asking: Is this good? Are you okay?
Confessional: Kate and I – we’ve been
married a long time. We both have – appetites. She couldn’t care less about
actually believe in the things other people seemed to value so highly. Fidelity
– really? Were you supposed to just want one person your whole life? Marriage.
Was there ever anything more set up to fail, to disappoint, to erode? Come on.
They were animals. Every last one of them rutting, feral beasts. Men. Women.
All of society was held together by gossamer thin, totally arbitrary laws and
mores that were always shifting and changing no matter how people clung. They
were all just barely in line.
expected nor encouraged Hugh to fall in love. In fact, she spoke very little.
She listened, made all the right affirming noises. If he noticed that she had
told him almost nothing about herself, it didn’t come up. But fall in love with
Anne he did. And things were getting complicated.
Now, finished and
holding her around the waist, Hugh was crying a little. His body weight was
pinning her down. He often got emotional after they made love. She didn’t mind
him most of the time. But the whole crying thing -- it was such a turn off. She
pushed against him and he let her up. She tugged down her skirt, and he pulled
her into an embrace.
She held him for a
while, then wiped his eyes, kissed his tears away. Because she knew that’s what
he wanted. She had a special gift for that, knowing what people wanted --
really wanted deep down – and giving them that thing for a while. And that was
why Hugh – why anyone – fell in love. Because he loved getting the thing he
wanted, even if he didn’t know what that was.
When he moved away
finally, she stared at her ghostly reflection in the dark window, wiped at her
“I’m going to
leave her,” Hugh said. He flung himself on one of the plush sofas. He was long
and elegant; his clothes impeccable, bespoke, made from the finest fabrics.
Tonight, his silk tie was loose, pressed cotton shirt was wilted, black wool
suit pants still looking crisp. Garments, all garments – even just his tennis
whites -- hung beautifully on his fit body.
She smiled, moved
to sit beside him. He kissed her, salty and sweet.
“It’s time. I
can’t do this anymore,” he went on.
This wasn’t the
first time he’d said this. Last time, when she’d tried to discourage him, he’d
held her wrists too hard when she tried to leave. There had been something
bright and hard in his eyes – desperation. She didn’t want him to get clingy
“Okay,” she said,
running her fingers through his hair. “Yeah.”
what he wanted to hear, needed to hear. If you didn’t give people what they
wanted, they became angry. Or they pulled away. And then the game was harder or
“We’ll go away,”
he said, tracing a finger along her jaw. Because of course they’d both lose
their jobs. Hugh’s wife Kate owned and ran the investment firm, had inherited
the company from her legendary father. Her brothers were on the board. They’d
never liked Hugh (this was one of his favorite pillow talk tirades, how Kate’s
brothers didn’t respect him). “We’ll take a long trip abroad and figure out
what comes next. Clean slate for both of us. Would you like that?”
“Of course,” she
said. “That would be wonderful.”
Anne liked her
job; when she’d applied and interviewed, she honestly wanted to work at the
firm. Numbers made a kind of sense to her, investment a kind of union of logic
and magic. Client work was a bit of a game, wasn’t it – convincing people to
part with their cash on the promise that you could make them more? She also
respected and admired her boss – her lover’s wife -- Kate. A powerful,
Maybe Anne should
have thought about all of that before she submitted to Hugh’s advances. He
wasn’t the power player; she’d miscalculated, or not run the numbers at all.
She made mistakes like that sometimes, let the game run her. Pop thought
it was a form of self-sabotage. Sometimes, sweetie, I think your heart’s not
quite in it. Maybe he was right.
“Ugh,” said Hugh,
pulling away, glancing at his watch. “I’m late. I have to change and meet Kate
at the fundraiser.”
She rose and
walked the expanse of his office, got his tux from the closet, and lay it
across the back of the couch. Another stunning item, heavy and silken. She ran
her fingers lovingly along the lapel. He rose, and she helped him dress,
hanging his other clothes, putting them back in the closet. She did his tie. In
his heart, he was a little boy. He wanted to be attended to, cared for. Maybe
everyone wanted that.
wonderful,” she said, kissing him. “Have fun tonight.”
He looked at her
long, eyes filling again.
“Soon,” he said.
“This charade can end.”
She put a gentle
hand to his cheek, smiled as sweetly as she could muster and started to move
from the room.
“Anne,” he said,
grabbing for her hand. “I love you.”
She’d never said
it back. She’d said things like “me, too” or she’d send him the heart- eyed
emoji in response to a text, sometimes she just blew him a kiss. He hadn’t
seemed to notice, or his pride was too enormous to ask her why she never said
it, or if she loved him. But mainly, she thought it was because Hugh only saw
and heard what he wanted to.
She unlaced her fingers
and blew him a kiss. “Goodnight, Hugh.”
His phone rang,
and he watched her as he answered.
darling,” he said, averting his eyes, moving away. “Just had to finish up with
She left him, his
voice following her down the hall.
In her office, she
gathered her things, a strange knot in the pit of her stomach. She sensed that
her luck was about to run out here. She couldn’t say why. Just a feeling that
things were unsustainable – that it wasn’t going to be as easy to leave Kate as
he thought, that on some level he didn’t really want to, that once things
reached critical mass, she’d be out of a job. Of course, it wouldn’t be a total
loss. She’d make sure of that.
There was a
loneliness, a hollow feeling that took hold at the end. She wished she could
call Pop, that he could talk her through. Instead her phone pinged. The message
there annoyed her.
This is wrong,
it said. I don’t want to do this anymore.
Just stay the
course, she wrote back. It’s too late to back out now.
Funny how that
worked. At the critical moment, she had to give the advice she needed herself.
The student becomes the teacher. No doubt, Pop would be pleased.
Anne glanced at
the phone. The little dots pulsed, then disappeared. The girl, younger,
greener, would do what she was told. She always had. So far.