Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Not That I Could Tell

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser
St. Martin's Press: 3/27/18
eBook review copy; 336 pages
ISBN-13: 9781250107886

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser is a highly recommended domestic mystery.

In the small town of Yellow Springs, Ohio, a group of neighborhood women spend a Saturday night drinking wine, baby monitors in hand, around a backyard fire pit. This is a rare night of kid-free adult interaction for most of the women and they all drink too much, share too much personal information, and regret it all the next morning. But, even more shocking than their hangovers and over-sharing, is that one of them is missing the next day. Kristin and her twins have disappeared overnight. It appears that a few things have been packed up, but her cell phone has been left behind, and the three have vanished.

Kristin was in the process of divorcing her husband, Paul, an ob/gyn doctor, who called the police after he discovered evidence that the three had left. As the police question the neighbors, the women's recollection of the evening is fuzzy and incomplete due to the amount of wine they consumed. Clara, Kristin's next door neighbor, thought she was close to her friend, but is shocked  when she learns things that her friend never shared with her. New neighbor, Izzy, didn't know Kristin well at all and is trying not to be judgmental. She is more worried about the private secret she shared with the women. 

As the investigation unfolds, suspicion is high on Paul, who appears in his public statement to be more interested in a potential monetary settlement from the divorce than actually cooperating with the police investigation. Kristin's last computer search seems to indicate she was concerned about spousal abuse. The news vans are circling the neighborhood, looking for a scoop. How well did the neighbors know Kristin - or Paul?

Chapters alternate between Clara and Izzy, with excerpts from a personal journal of an unnamed person opening chapters. You meet all the neighbors through Clara and Izzy's interactions with them. Clara is a wonderful character. She is deeply concerned about Kristin's disappearance as she experienced an incident years before that has scarred her and made her cautious and suspicious over Paul's statement and actions. Izzy, portrayed as way-too self-absorbed for me, really created her own drama and problems based on the big-hush-hush secret that she shared. It was a struggle to relate to her and what she felt was important.

The quality of the writing is good and the plot moves along evenly, not frantically, as more information is slowly revealed. There are no huge surprises here, but it is a well told story with a satisfying ending.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of St. Martin's Press.

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