The good news about this novel is that the plot is great. There are plenty of twists and turns and hidden information. Noah is accused of murdering his teen aged stepdaughter. His wife, Maggie, had only reconnected with her daughter weeks before and taken her into their house. If I were to evaluate just the plot, the story outline, I'd give 5/5 stars. However, I did not like the way the plot was developed and the information revealed.
I had difficulty with the how the narrative was written. There are two viewpoints. Some scenes were those from Noah's viewpoint. The book opens with him on trial for murder. The narrative starts on the last day of the trial then generally works its way back in time to the beginning of the trial. Near the end, however, readers are bounced to the verdict of the trial and the time after. Alternating with the trial scenes are those from Maggie's viewpoint. These begin with the call from her estranged daughter and move forward in time. About the last 80 pages or so follow a chronological timeline in both viewpoints.
That way of developing the narrative was repetitive and often confusing. For example, chapter 41 has the trial testimony of what happened at the barbecue. But in the later chapter 44 is when Maggie's friend tells her it would be a good idea to have a barbecue. Another example is that on the trial day 6, Noah tells his lawyer, “I want to testify.” (Loc 700/4329) But later, on a chapter identified as trial day 5, we read of Noah testifying and being cross examined by the prosecuting attorney. (Loc 813/4329) Granted, I read an uncorrected advanced copy, but I think these examples reveal the difficulty of developing the narrative in this convoluted way.
So the good news is that this novel has a good story line that is a good mystery. It has drama and suspense and plenty of twists and turns. The bad news is that I would have liked the narrative to have been chronological. There would have been less repetition and juggling of plot revelation. And I would have had a better reading experience.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
Lisa Scottoline is The New York Times bestselling author and Edgar award-winning author of 31 novels. She also writes a weekly column with her daughter for the Philadelphia Inquirer titled “Chick Wit,” a witty and fun take on life from a woman's perspective. She has a BA in English from the University of Pennsylvania and went on to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She lives in Philadelphia. You can find out more at https://scottoline.com/about/biography/.
St. Martin's Press, 400 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.