THE PEOPLE NEXT DOOR by Caroline Crane


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Another of the author's overwrought domestic disturbances, this one rife with philandering husbands, child-obsessed wives, and Houses With Atmosphere (mostly creepy). Debra's problems are many: hubby Kurt is putting the moves on yet another campus co-worker; stepdaughter Gigi loaths her; and the house that Kurt has rented for them in Luna Beach just isn't safe for two-and-a-half-year-old Drewie (unguarded windows, etc.). Meanwhile, teen hunk Todd, who picks up Gigi on the beach, casually adds to Debra's worry overload: a child murderer is still loose, and Todd hints that it might be Billy Maul, son of their landlords/next-door neighbors, Frank and Enid. And Billy is due home any day now from rehab, though he can't walk or talk as a result of a self-inflicted (though no one saw him do it) gun-shot wound to the head. Soon Gigi is seriously spaced-out on drags, almost drowns in the ocean (Frank and Debra save her), and Drewie has been kidnapped from his second-floor bedroom. The only eyewitness: Billy Maul, who--through a most improbable version of Twenty Questions played out with his devoted mom--indicates who the culprit is. A wild car-chase through the early morning hours turns up Todd's brutally murdered mother Hazel, a robbery at the bank next door to Frank's real-estate office, and a badly damaged Drewie. Fatal plot flaw: Surely no one is dumb enough to expect a toddler to have a cat-burglar's balance. Third-rate Mary Higgins Clark stuff, with a silly psychiatrist/patient episode and far too much emphasis on the indomitability of both moms.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1988
ISBN: 059521066X
Publisher: Dodd, Mead