If you need more than that one word review of this dull tome read on.
A middle-class man comes home late from work to find his wife gone. All her things still there – including purse and phone and all the things a person would take even if only leaving for a moment. Tom is annoyed, then a bit worried. Mostly for himself. Meanwhile an unidentified, middle-class lady has had bad car accident while in an unsavoury part of the city. It will surprise absolutely no one who has ever read a book or seen a movie that she is Tom’s missing wife, Karen, though the tone implied this was A Twist of Alarming Proportions. Additional unsurprising elements of the story include a case of amnesia, a hidden past for one of our not-so-happy couple, an unexplained dead body, an extra-marital affair and a barking-mad, childless neighbour.
Am I being too harsh? Possibly. But I can’t help it. Everything about this book is just so bland and predictable. That there is nothing new in the storyline need not have automatically made the book virtually unreadable but the entire thing has a tepid quality to it. Like someone from a government agency had documented a citizen’s worst nightmare on form 729B and in so doing smoothed away all of the interesting bits. Familiar plot devices and genre tropes are thrown in almost at random, certainly without subtlety or innovation, and there is a lot of telling and precious little showing throughout the book.
The characters are two dimensional; totally lacking in believable emotions or inner voices. Tom is a self-absorbed dullard whose love for his wife runs about as deep as a bird bath in a drought. Karen’s supposed troubles always read like someone talking about bad things, never like actual experiences a human being was actually going through. And the deranged neighbour lady is just a joke. For a much more nuanced and authentic-feeling characterisation of a woman driven to a kind of madness by her unfulfilled desire for motherhood check out Michael Robotham’s THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS rather than this dreck.
There is nothing memorable about the setting either. For ages I thought we might be in Canada because that is where the author lives but then one of the cardboard cutout cop characters said something like “that’s a big offence here in New York“. I assume the state rather than the city given there was a vague Stepford quality to the little enclave where Tom, Karen and the delusional neighbour lady live but I don’t care enough to work it out.
Or, as I have said before, meh.
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As always, other opinions about this book are available including that of my fellow book club member Kerrie over at Mysteries in Paradise.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Narrator Tavia Gilbert
Publisher Random House Audio, 2017
Length 8 hours 52 minutes
Format audio (mp3)
Book Series standalone
Source of review copy I bought it