The Mother Next Door by Tara Laskowski
10/12/21; 352 pages
Graydon House Books
The Mother Next Door by Tara Laskowski is a highly recommended novel of domestic suspense.
The neighborhood of Ivy Woods Drive is known for their annual Halloween block party. An exclusionary group of women who call themselves the Ivy Five have been in charge of the event for years, although now there are only four members, with the "Queen Bee" Kendra firmly in charge. When Theresa and Adam, the new high school principal, move into the neighborhood with her teenage daughter, Theresa is anxious to fit in and with Adam's position, she is an obvious choice to be the new fifth member of the group. The previous fifth member left under mysterious circumstances and some dark secret the group holds seems to involve her. As the group gathers to plan their annual event, it seems that secrets they have all been holding may be revealed by someone who is threatening them.
None of the characters are going to win a personality contest for
their likeableness or charisma as it is clear they all have secrets and
are desperate to either be in charge or at least be a part of the "in"
crowd. Theresa, who is needy in her desire to fit in would be the most
sympathetic character. The story unfolds through chapters from the
point-of-view of Theresa, Kendra, and an unnamed character who seemingly
knows one of their secrets and hold nefarious intentions toward the Ivy
Five. The focus is on the character development of Theresa and Kendra,
rather than all the other characters who are bit players in the drama.
The plot with a ruling group of residents running the neighborhood is
a known quantity as it has been used in many novels. The plot is
basically the reaction of the inner group of four to the threats via
anonymous contact. They are trying to discover who it is, although they
suspect the former group member, and there is a lot of talk about
keeping their secret. And planning for their large Halloween Block
Party. This is not a fast-paced suspense novel, but rather a slow
smoldering burn as the count down to the block party occurs, more
secrets are revealed, and the unnamed person threatening to reveal their
secrets is becoming emboldened. There are several twists near the end. The Mother Next Door is an entertaining seasonal novel.