Monday, August 2, 2021

You Can Never Tell

You Can Never Tell by Sarah Warburton
8/10/21; 288 pages
Crooked Lane Books

You Can Never Tell by Sarah Warburton is a highly recommended psychological thriller.

Michael and Kacy Tremain move from New Jersey to a planned suburban community in Sugar Land, Texas. Kacy is still trying to recover from a scandal and betrayal involving her best friend that resulted in her losing her job as a museum curator and ruining her reputation. Although she is struggling to trust people again, Kacy manages to make some friends in Sugar Land, Elizabeth, Rahmia, and her neighbor Lena. We know from the opening that something terrible is going to happen to the couple and that Kacy's friend is a serial killer. This is confirmed by alternating excerpts from a true crime podcast involving Kacy and Michael. What we need to learn from the plot is the backstory and the events leading up to some terrible discovery. The anticipation of what is to be revealed is what creates the tension.

The big opening disclosure in the narrative grabs your attention immediately and then the plot moves back in time to follow the backstory. Excerpts from the true crime podcast keep the high expectations set by the opening fresh in your mind. You're going to spend a little less time trying to guess who is the killer and much more time anticipating what is going to happen next. It is an interesting choice for a plot device and was largely successful. After the shocking opening, the plot slows down and makes you wait for more information to be disclosed along the way.

Because she is damaged and trying to recover her confidence, Kacy will be a sympathetic character for most readers. You will wish her well and applaud her trying to make friends and fit in - but then you'll worry about exactly who these friends are. Your concern for the well being of her and Michael is going to help increase the tension and suspense because you know something awful is coming. This is a novel that will keep you reading to the end because you need to have some questions answered and need to see when Kacy realizes something is seriously wrong. This is a how well do you really know your neighbors novel. There were some scenes that seemed so true to life, as in pretty darn close to some recent experiences, that it made the tension just that much more intense.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Crooked Lane Books.

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