When a young woman considers the consequences of stealing from her employer, she doesn’t consider that the damage might reach beyond the walls of a prison cell.
After learning that anyone with the right initials could cash a check made out to NT instead of NuLine Telecommunications, Natalie Bingham becomes Natalie Taylor, wife of Colin Taylor, who keeps exotic reptiles in the house he shares with his mother. Natalie’s commitment to the scam, going so far as to marry a man she doesn’t love just to get his initials, is part of the allure of this wholly unlikable character. From the outside, she appears to be a beautiful and clever woman who charms everyone she meets, from her gullible husband to her cynical defense lawyer. On the inside, she’s intellectually lazy, insulting people with racial slurs and turning to a life of crime at the first sign of financial hardship. She doesn’t believe she’ll hurt anyone if she steals a few dollars at a time from a big corporation, but even when she’s proven wrong, she finds that she doesn’t care. Similar to Something to Hide (2016), Moggach’s latest book connects the lives of strangers in alternating narratives. In this case, Natalie’s trail of stolen phone-bill payments leaves one of her victims, David, his wife, Sheila, and their daughter, Chloe, with a dead phone line at the worst possible time. Each of them wants something out of reach—David wants a better life for his overweight daughter, Colin wants a family, and Natalie wants more excitement than an ordinary office job can offer her. And how far they are all willing to go to get what they desire most uncovers some surprising truths about the lies people tell themselves.
Going inside the mind of a pretty, freckled villain who commits a seemingly victimless crime creates a page-turner with just enough moral ambiguity to ensure an unexpected ending.