Ominous things are happening to elderly women living by themselves in the salt marsh of Higgs Point, across the East River from Manhattan.
Home to look after her suddenly hospitalized mother, Evie Ferrante is shocked to discover the bungalow Evie and her sister Ginger grew up in has become a trash heap overnight—mysterious new flat-screen TV and wads of loose cash notwithstanding. Mina Yetner, their 90-year-old next-door neighbor, whose mind seems sharp to Evie, is being treated as senile and worse by her manipulative nephew, who has been pressuring her to sign certain papers. The more oddities Evie discovers, including a car leaking gasoline because it's had acid poured in the tank, the less she trusts even people like Finn, a cute geek who had a crush on her in high school and now reserves donuts for her as proprietor of the still-running dime store. Evie has much invested in nostalgia. A fireman's daughter who witnessed a tragic blaze at a young age, she is curating a show for a historical society about the day in 1945 a lost B-25 bomber slammed into the Empire State Building—a crash, as it happens, Mina survived. Told from both Evie's and Mina's perspectives, the book takes its time setting the scene and establishing the creepy vibe. Ultimately, it doesn't have a strong enough payoff as a suspense novel. But in portraying the inner life of an aged widow struggling heroically against her limitations, it's very good.
Ephron, who wrote five novels with Donald Davidoff as G.H. Ephron, continues to assert her own thoughtful style with her third fictional effort under her own name.