Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Simple Favor

A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell
HarperCollins: 3/21/17
eBook review copy; 304 pages
ISBN-13: 9780062497772

A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell is a highly recommended, twisty domestic thriller.
Stephanie's best friend Emily is missing. Stephanie is a young widow and stay-at-home mommy blogger, so it must have been fate that she and Emily, a PR executive for a fashion designer, would hit it off so well. Before she went missing, Emily asked a simple favor from Stephanie, one that best friends can ask of each other and one that she had asked many times before: could Stephanie pick up Emily's son Nicky after school? Stephanie's son, Miles, and Nicky are best friends and both 5 years-old, so of course Stephanie said yes. Isn't that what best friends do for each other?

But then Emily doesn't come to pick up Nicky. She isn't answering her phone calls or texts. Emily's husband, Sean, is traveling overseas on business. Perhaps Stephanie misheard Emily and she meant keep Nicky overnight, but she certainly wouldn't have meant she'd be gone for six days. What has happened to her best friend? Stephanie turns to her many readers on her mommy blog and asks for help locating her best friend. Her readers know how lonely she was before she and Emily became friends, so they will understand how distressing her disappearance is for Stephanie and her son. Then Sean returns home, and he and Stephanie begin to spend time together, bonding over Emily's disappearance. When Emily's body is found, Stephanie and Sean begin to find more than just solace in each other's company.

The narrative is told from three points of view, starting with Stephanie. Then, in turn, we hear from Emily and Sean. Nothing is quite what it seems in this very addictive thriller. All the narrators are disagreeable and unreliable. There are more than enough lies, secrets, and schemes kept by all the characters. Stephanie is the main voice, and she is full of more than enough anxiety and insecurities, which she overshares about in an untruthful manner on her blog. She, too, is hiding secrets. But, by far, the bigger secrets are Emily's.

I'm going to be honest here: I wasn't sure I could continue reading A Simple Favor at the beginning when it was focused on Stephanie's point-of-view and her blog entries. Mommy blogs are something I have always studiously avoided reading and Stephanie's entries were downright cloying, as well as annoying. What the blog entries do manage is to highlight the difference between what she wrote and reality. Once Stephanie and Sean begin their affair you really begin to question the intelligence of all these people. I pushed on, hoping the missing friend would add more interest - and she surely did. Once the narrative turned to Emily's voice, things began to get much more interesting.

While I found A Simple Favor to be generally well written, having Stephanie be the lead, start-off character was a bit of a misstep for me, as was Emily's plan. Although the plot is nothing earth-shatteringly unexpected, the tension rises considerably when Emily's thoughts are shared. It was at this point that A Simple Favor became unputdownable for me. Whereas Stephanie is annoying and naive, Emily is smart, likely a psychopath, and playing a long-con. Yeah, her plan doesn't quite seem realistic. She's unlikeable and treacherous, but in a way that makes you wonder what her next move is going to be - and she has some doozies. My rating kept going up as I was reading. The ending was pitch-perfect.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins for TLC.

1 comment:

Heather J @ TLC Book Tours said...

Wow ... what a story! I am so completely intrigued by what I read in your review that I will be picking this book up asap. I absolutely need to know what happened to Emily!

Thanks for being a part of the tour.