A grisly double murder in a California mansion upends one woman’s quiet family life.
Carroll’s debut thriller opens with a bang: Two murder victims narrate their own deaths. Kristina Jecawski and New Zealand rugby player Donny McKenna are found murdered at Kristina’s California mansion with no leads other than an abusive ex-husband and some bloody footprints (early pages recall the Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman murders). Next-door neighbor Julianne Macnair, pediatrician and wife of a successful property developer, arrives home with her son, Teddie, and steps into a pool of blood—it’s the first sign that her life will be completely turned upside down. Carroll takes readers on a whirlwind ride through Julianne’s life, from her somewhat difficult marriage to Simon to her fulfilling job at a clinic, from her college days in Washington to her current life as the mother of two sons and a stillborn baby. As Julianne’s life expands, she becomes a foil for Kristina, a mother with endless male suitors and multiple plastic surgeries. Carroll also attempts to tie in unsolved murders in the Pacific Northwest, but the move seems forced. Each of the major (and some of the minor) characters gets a chance to narrate the book—Julianne, Kristina, Simon, Kristina’s ex-husband, members of the police force and the doctor at Julianne’s clinic. While the device serves to quickly draw readers in, it loses steam since all of the voices sound the same. Carroll solidly characterizes Kristina and Julianne, but while she provides many details for the other characters, none of them has a strong voice. Carroll is a pediatric physician, so the medical aspects of the book stand out, although the ending isn’t exactly surprising.
A gripping page-turner with ample suspense despite its flaws.