If you like female-centric thrillers, where it’s all about the mystery and the tension and the veiled danger, this is a great example of the genre. It has an unreliable narrator who isn’t a very good person, more than one twist in the plot, and sufficient danger.
Anna Fox is living alone in a big five-story townhouse in New York, missing her daughter and her husband, from whom she separated nearly a year before the story starts. Anna is on a lot of medications, has physical and psychological therapy, and drinks Merlot faster than most people go through bottled water. She’s a voyeur who enjoys spying on the neighbors with her telephoto lens (and sometimes taking pictures of them.) She plays chess on line, takes French lessons online, and sometimes interacts with other people, trying to help them, even though she’s not really a psychotherapist anymore. What she doesn’t do is go outside.
Some new neighbors move in the house across the way, and pretty soon Anna’s small world is cracked open a little bit by Ethan, the shy but sweet teenager, and Jane Russell, his friendly warm-hearted mother. Readers may be tempted to think this is a redemptive arc, where the delightful Jane pulls Anna out of her shell and convinces her that the world is beautiful again, like some manic pixie fairy girl. But nope. Pretty soon Anna witnesses a murder and we find out that women who are on truckloads of psychoactive drugs (including cases of Merlot) are not considered credible witnesses. To make matters worse, there’s another women whom Anna has never seen before who is claiming to be Jane Russell.
I liked the explanation of Anna’s dissolution with her husband Ed; I found it a heart wrenching tragedy but still a compelling story. I also kind of liked Anna’s tangential relationships with the other people around her little park. Her relationship with her tenant, David, was also plausible, and I found him a very believable character.
What I didn’t really like is the part after the real killer is revealed. Actually, I didn’t really like any of the killer’s family. Their reactions didn’t really feel authentic. I think that I felt kind of cheated or lied to when the killer was revealed; there should have been more foreshadowing so that I went “OMG, of course! All the signs were there all along!” instead of “wait, what? I guess the killer is just a psychopathic liar … but …” It still left me disappointed. There was no way the reader could really have anticipated it, from Anna’s descriptions of the killer’s character, and the fact that Anna was so completely misled made her seem a little bit stupid.
Still, it made a plane flight go by a lot quicker than if I hadn’t had a book, and I found it a fun read. A little dark, though; be aware if you want something fluffy this isn’t it.