Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Woman on the Edge

Woman on the Edge by Samantha M. Bailey
Simon & Schuster: 3/3/20
review copy; 272 pages 

Woman on the Edge by Samantha M. Bailey is a recommended debut psychological thriller.

Morgan Kincaid is standing on a subway platform when a distraught stranger begs her to take her baby. She actually calls Morgan by her name, thrusts her baby into Morgan's arms, and then jumps to her death. Morgan, who is still recovering from her husband Ryan's suicide after he was convicted of embezzlement, doesn't recognize the woman but wonders if she was one of Ryan's victims. Detective Karina Martinez, who was one of those who investigated Ryan’s crimes, is called in to investigate this death. She believes Morgan was involved with Ryan’s embezzlement, so she suspects Morgan was involved in this death.

It is learned that the woman who jumped was Nicole Markham, prominent CEO of the athletic brand Breathe. She was out on maternity leave after having her baby six weeks earlier. After she had the baby, she was experiencing postpartum depression as well as guilt from years ago when she was a nanny and the baby she was caring for died from sudden infant death syndrome. Nicole seemed to be suffering from paranoia since the birth of her daughter, but was it imagined or real?

The narrative is told in alternating timelines, following Morgan in the present day investigation versus Nicole's life leading up to her giving Morgan her baby. Bailey keeps the suspense taut in both timelines as Morgan investigates on her own why this happened, which stands in contrast to what Nicole was experiencing before her death.

While this was a good novel, I had several problems with it. The good points included it is a tense, action packed plot with main characters that are well-developed. Both Morgan and Nicole appear to be realistic characters, although not necessarily believable with everything that happens to them. My issues started when I kept thinking as I was reading that I knew this plot, that it was in some other novel I've read, although no name came to mind. (I read a lot.) I also knew almost at the start who was responsible, even before the baby was born.

In the end, yes, Woman on the Edge is suspenseful, and a quick read, but with an over-the-top melodramatic story that stretches credibility. The writing could have used a bit more editing, although with an advanced reading copy I don't usually mention editing, but it was evident work was needed.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Simon & Schuster.

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