Melanie Hale is a good wife. Caring for two children, one on the autism spectrum who’s just about to start school, and a mother-in-law on the last stages of the downward slide of dementia, she keeps the home fires burning while her realtor husband Collin is the breadwinner. Unfulfilled - and probably depressed - she allows herself to be seduced by Luke, a successful author staying in town to write for a while. When she’s the one to discover Luke’s body, however, everything suddenly snaps into sharp focus; she can’t let this blow up her life.
Someone knows she was at Luke’s house that fateful night, though, and she starts getting threatening messages blackmailing her - pay up or else. There’s a police detective who won’t stop sniffing around too, but Melanie’s not too sure if he suspects her or is trying to hit on her. Especially since she knows the guy has a habit of not taking no for an answer from women.
Things take a pretty wild turn when Melanie finds out who actually killed Luke, and why. No spoilers, but she basically has to double down on defending her family. One wrong decision, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the only way out is through the other side of the mess she’s made.
It’s sometimes hard to summon up sympathy for Melanie - a yummy mummy gorgeous enough every man who meets her seems to lust after her, who owns a Birkin bag and whose problems are a lot of her own making. If you can afford a Birkin bag, you can afford some help around the house, is my point, and I didn’t get why she didn’t have someone coming in to help with the mother-in-law, at the least. I also don’t get how she had time to have an affair, considering that someone with advanced dementia cannot just be left alone for hours at a time as Melanie seemed to do. It was a bit of a puzzling plot hole.
That said, I really, thoroughly enjoyed this. The reveal of the killer surprised me - even though it made perfect logical sense in terms of motive, I was deeply immersed in Melanie’s PoV, and it hadn’t even occurred to Melanie that it might be a possibility, so it never occurred to me either, and that’s a testament to the quality of the author’s writing. As a story, it’s all eminently plausible. I also liked that Melanie was an absolutely reliable narrator and the author wasn’t tempted to go for ‘one final twist’ that has the effect of invalidating everything that’s happened before, something I’m seeing far too much of in domestic thrillers lately. A great read and I’m happy to give it five stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.