A.J. Finn, the blurbs were the kicker for me. Gillian Flynn, Stephen King, Ruth Ware, and others are quoted on the book jacket--singing its praises. Yes, the word of other authors sways my opinion.
So were they right to gush over this book? In my opinion: YES!
Our main character, Dr. Anna Fox is an agoraphobic recluse, living her life vicariously through her neighbors. She knows when they leave in the morning and when they return at night. What they eat for dinner. Even what their book club picks are. And who is committing adultery. When Anna's not spying on her neighbors with her trusty camera, she's drowning herself in bottle after bottle of wine. Personal hygiene is an extra curricular activity for Anna. Once a proud therapist, Anna's only deep connection is with her fellow agoraphobics on the internet. She dishes out advice to others, but lacks the emotional fortitude to deal with her own issues. It's too heartbreaking to face the problems in her own life. She's separated from her husband, Ed, and daughter, Olivia. Are Ed and Olivia the reason Anna has not left her house in nearly a year? It's hard to know. Anna is such an unreliable narrator, it's hard to separate fact from fiction. The only thing readers know for sure is Anna's deep-seated love for old Hollywood noir films. Watching movies are the rare moments of joy for Anna, but now they could be distorting her perceptions of reality.
The Russells are Anna's new neighbors. Shy, teenage Ethan is the first to make contact with Anna. Visiting Anna in her home and learning about her love for old films. Eventually, Ethan's mom, Jane, also forges a friendship with Anna. All of this out of the watchful eye of her husband, Alistair. Jane is fearful of something, perhaps it's Alistair? Before Anna can discover the source of her new friend's fear, Jane disappears. And that's because Anna is certain she witnessed Jane's murder. But did Anna really see what she thinks she saw? Or was it the alcohol playing tricks on her?
Anna is the only one certain a crime has been committed. What about Alistair and Ethan? Both of them swear Anna has never met Jane. When the police get involved, Alistair is forced to produce his wife and she looks nothing like the woman Anna met. What's going on? Who is the real Jane? Is any of it real? It's so hard to know what's going on, but I loved the ride from start to finish. Each chapter is short and to the point. I liken them to potato chips, it was hard to stop at just one chapter. I was thoroughly entertained. When the movie version of this eventually comes out, I hope the producers stay true to the book!
Notes: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (HarperCollins) as part of a blog tour with TLC Book Tours.