A woman’s search for answers after her friend is found dead in a bathtub uncovers secrets and lies in this novel.
Kat Burrows recently moved to Texas with her husband, Mack, leaving behind their group of friends in Maple Park, a leafy Chicago suburb. Three months later, she’s returning for one friend’s funeral: Shea Walker, who always seemed sunny, helpful, and easygoing, drowned in a lakeside B&B’s bathtub with alcohol and painkillers in her stomach. Suicide doesn’t seem likely, but that possibility haunts Kat, because Shea phoned her the night before she died, and Kat didn’t take the call. After the funeral, Shea’s old friends talk about how she was always there for them. Determined to know more, Kat starts asking questions and learns some disturbing facts: that Shea was planning to leave her husband, who was cheating on her; that Shea was talking to a man in a bar the night she died who disappeared; and that Shea may have had an affair that destroyed another marriage. Confessions from friends and flashbacks from Shea’s point of view reveal the cracks in multiple marriages, and slowly clarify the story of what really happened the night she died. Kat perseveres to discover the explosive truth. Diskin (Broken Grace, 2015, etc.) is an able writer, delivering a well-orchestrated plot that offers some surprises, as well as increased tension in its final pages. However, her style seems overly slick at times, with characterizations that have the artificial feel of a house that’s been carefully staged for a magazine spread: “Shea was the go-to volunteer—be it at the kids’ schools, fund-raisers, or block parties—to stand atop the nearest furniture or finger whistle until a crowd was tamed, usually offering a silly pose or brief dance while she had everyone’s attention.” However, as the ongoing investigation cracks these façades, the tone becomes grittier and more effective.
A sometimes-glib mystery that’s at its best when it explores what lies beneath the surface of suburbia.