Something She's Not Telling Us by Darcey Bell HarperCollins; 4/7/20
review copy; 320 pages
Something She's Not Telling Us by Darcey Bell is a recommended psychological thriller. "Is anyone ever really who they say they are…?"
Charlotte is a floral designer who
lives in Manhattan’s East Village with her husband, Eli, and their
five-year-old daughter, Daisy. Charlotte is close to her younger
brother, Rocco, and tolerates being introduced to his numerous bad
girlfriends. Now Rocco's latest girlfriend is Ruth. Ruth seems better
than the previous girlfriends, but her almost immediate obsession with
Daisy makes Charlotte uneasy. Daisy is a shy child with asthma, however
she seems to like Ruth too. The novel opens with Charlotte and Eli's
daughter being kidnapped from her after school program by Ruth.
After the opening, the novel jumps back in time to when Rocco first
introduces Ruth to Charlotte, Eli, and Daisy. The chapters in the
narrative then alternate between being narrated by Charlotte or Ruth.
The timeline of their relationship progresses forward from the time they
met to the current day kidnapping. It is clear that Charlotte is
increasingly concerned about Ruth as her obsession with Daisy grows and
she doesn't trust her. Ruth, on the other hand, is concerned about
Charlotte's protectiveness over Daisy. She also knows instinctively that
Charlotte has a secret. The question is what is real, who is telling the truth, and what is really happening?
The opening immediately captures your attention as Daisy is kidnapped
by Ruth and Charlotte is frantic to find her. Then the story is reduced
to alternating perspectives of Charlotte and Ruth. When the narrative
next jumps back in time and requires the reader to work our way forward
to find out what just happened and why, it loses steam and becomes a
pedestrian she said/she said plot device. Sometimes this plot structure
works well, but I didn't feel it was as successful this time. It might
have pulled ahead if the ending was a clincher for me, but, alas, it
Setting the structure of the novel, Bell's writing is quite good and
she captures these two different women and their personalities well. The
characters are well-developed, but soon you will be questioning them as
neither one feels like a reliable narrator. And, again, the characters
just don't work as well at the ending. This isn't an awful novel and
those who like having a dramatic start and then jumping back in time to
learn about events leading up the the event will enjoy Something She's Not Telling Us.
My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.