G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: July 16, 2019
My Rating: 🍪🍪🍪🍪.5
The title of this thriller immediately made me think of The Last Mrs. Parrish, and I was definitely getting similar type vibes throughout. It helped that I could see a dark black dividing page right near the middle of my book, so I knew there was going to be some kind of big narrative jump (in hindsight, I think having such an obvious marker was probably a bad call on the part of the publisher, although I did read an ARC, so I suppose that’s still subject to change). In any case, this book pulled me right in, as I was introduced to Phoebe Miller, who spends her days resigned to her home (ah yes, the old reclusive-female-at-home-alone-in-a-thriller trope). Phoebe’s late father Daniel, recently became the center of a sexual assault scandal, and as a result, Phoebe chooses to hide her face for a time, and remain in her home, comfortably surrounded by reminders of the wealth she inherited from her dad. Her relationship with her husband, Wyatt, is clearly strained. Although we don’t get much insight into what their marriage was like when they were happy, they are now sleeping in separate rooms and obviously misaligned in their views about children, and their future.
While Wyatt goes off to work each day, Phoebe looks out her window, voyeur-esque. She notices a blue car stationed outside her house day after day, and becomes increasingly concerned that someone is watching her. That is, until Phoebe notices something across the street that’s more interesting to her: the Napier family, moving in across the street, and specifically, Jake, the hot teenage son of Vicki and Ron. Phoebe, in the throes of a midlife crisis, quickly becomes infatuated with Jake, and makes every excuse to spend time near him. She quickly befriends his mother, and hires him to do odd jobs around her house. Jake, an attractive, uprooted 18 year old, suddenly without any friends and insecure about his plans to go to Stanford at the end of the summer, falls quickly for Phoebe. I didn’t find this totally, completely believable given the frumpy way Phoebe is depicted when the reader is first introduced to her, however, after learning how intensely dysfunctional Jake’s family is, I began to see how the Phoebe’s stability might be appealing to Jake from a mental health standpoint
As Phoebe’s relationships with both Jake, and Vicki grow stronger, Dickson includes alternating chapters titled ‘Interlude’ that are narrated by Nadia, the driver of the car that idles outside Phoebe’s house. Nadia slowly unveils her interest and intent with the Millers, but her real involvement in the story doesn’t come until the second half of the book (remember that black page I told you about?), when she and Wyatt become an unlikely team, as they struggle to convince the Napiers that life at the Miller’s house is fine, after a series of unfortunate incidents. In the interest of not giving away the entire twisted narrative, I will just say that the second half of this book was a whirlwind. The depth of the characters and their issues (think medical malpractice, blackmail, murder, identity theft…) was intense and unexpected, and kept me ripping through pages while frantically yelling at my roommate to pop some frozen cookie dough into the oven for me, because you don’t have time to bake when you’re dealing with the insanity that is the Napier household. The continuation of the ‘Interlude’ chapters in the second half of the book with a different, unknown narrator, kept me guessing until the very end, and the final pages had the classic, good-thriller feel, when you still have no idea how the story will conclude. All in all, a very solid read.