Friday, November 5, 2021

The Secret Next Door

The Secret Next Door by Rebecca Taylor
11/9/21; 352 pages

The Secret Next Door by Rebecca Taylor is a highly recommended domestic drama.

Alyson Tinsdale knows she and her husband Justin can't really afford the starter home in the upscale Enclave neighborhood, but she talks him into it knowing that their son Andrew will be starting kindergarten in their highly rated schools. Alyson, who is hesitant to try and make friends in this new community, has made one, Gabby. When Gabby gets her invited to the neighborhood book club, she accepts the invitation with hopes of meeting people. She meets people but also drinks so much that she has to be driven home.

One of the women Alyson meets is Bonnie Sloan. Bonnie is one of the leading members of the community who by all outward appearances is wealthy and successful. She has three children. Her oldest son is headed to Yale, and her youngest daughter is in Andrew's kindergarten class. Now Bonnie is running for the Senate, while her husband has no business sense and is quickly losing the family fortune. Their one financial hope is the Extreme Golf Facility her husband is planning to develop by The Enclave.

Alyson's sense of safety changes when Bonnie's thirteen-year-old son is found dead beside the lake. Adding to her conflicted feelings are Andrew's behavioral problems at school. While Alyson is just learning about the plethora of gossip in the community, Bonnie knows it well.

What makes The Secret Next Door a compelling novel is the excellent writing and the fast-paced plot. The real focus is the murder mystery, but swirling around it is the neighborhood full of people feigning outward perfection with no struggles.

The key to enjoying The Secret Next Door is to know from the start that it is a group of people behaving badly and trying to hide their flaws, as revealed by the question "How well do you know your neighbors?" The first hurdle to jump in this quest to appreciate this novel is accepting Alyson's deep and abiding insecurity and lack of self esteem coupled with her desperate desire to fit in. She was not a very sympathetic character during most of the novel. You will want to yell at her to grow up and snap out of it. Alyson does become more sympathetic. Bonnie is equally annoying at the start. She has the self esteem, but she's hiding her struggles. Once her son dies, she is a much more sympathetic character.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Sourcebooks.

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