Faulkner's debut mystery is twisty and turny, with various potential bad seeds and complications--and it ends in a satisfying whirl of revelation and resolution.
Trying to work out where it all began, where it all started going wrong. And I suppose the real answer is it started years before you could have ever imagined it did.
Helen lives in her dream home, an old Victorian beauty where she grew up, with her architect husband, who has masterminded plans to change the house and make it even more grand.
Her brother and sister-in-law live nearby, and when Helen becomes pregnant with a long-desired baby and her brother's wife announces she's pregnant as well, Helen feels sure that her life couldn't be any more full and happy.
But when she meets Rachel, a single mother-to-be in her prenatal class, Helen begins to feel unsettled. The unpredictable Rachel is spontaneous and fun, but her behavior is also sometimes erratic, and she has an edge.
Rachel seems to know things about Helen's life and family that she shouldn't. When she alludes to mysterious connections between the women--and a long-ago crime--her persistent presence threatens to unravel the rest of the group's perfect lives forever.
Meanwhile the reader begins to suspect that Helen's loyalties and earnest, nervous desire for friendship and connection has been taken advantage of by those she has always trusted.
An unreliable narrator setup can be hit or miss for me, but in this case, I felt Faulkner deftly crafted Helen as naive, overwhelmed, lonely, and, at times, medicated. Therefore the omissions and confusion on her part--which allow the tricky situations at the heart of the book to be revealed slowly--aren't too convenient, and they add layers to the mystery of who exactly the nefarious force in the story may be.
Something sinister consistently bubbles beneath the too-perfect surface of Helen's life. Faulkner twists and turns through multiple potential suspects and snapshots of behind-the-scenes details, so that almost everyone seems potentially culpable. She keeps the tension rising with the stalkeresque aspect of the story, in which Rachel more and more deeply insinuates herself into Helen and Daniel's life--as well as through the creepy letters interspersed throughout, written by a dark, omniscient player in all of this after everything has come to light.
I received a prepublication digital copy of this recently published book courtesy of NetGalley and Gallery Books.
Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?
This is journalist Katherine Faulkner's first novel. She was inspired to write this book when she attended prenatal classes before the birth of her first child and noted the immediate intimacy between the women attending.