Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Something She's Not Telling Us

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 wasn't.

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.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.

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