In Smoak’s (Temptation, 2015, etc.) novel, a suburban woman follows her mysterious husband’s strict rules until a handsome neighbor gives her reason to escape.
Adeline Bell is the 30-year-old spouse of an enigmatic, unnamed man who’s only home on weekends. During the week, she’s free to do as she pleases—as long as she doesn’t spend too much time outside of the house and continues to take her medication, per her husband’s directives. The monotony of her days is momentarily lifted once a week when she jogs by a handsome gardener, who mows the same lawn at the same time, every Thursday morning. Everything changes one day when she accidentally trips in front of him, and they finally meet. His name is Ben Jones, and he’s eager to help her when it’s clear that she’s sprained her ankle. They soon engage in a hesitant yet passionate relationship, and he eventually finds out about her husband and the dark, secretive life that he and Adeline keep. Ben discovers that Adeline’s spouse is rarely around, that he emotionally and physically abuses her when he is, and that they both keep many secrets. Ben and Adeline devise a plan to catch her husband in the act of hurting her, so that they can turn him in to the police, she can file for divorce, and the new couple can pursue their relationship in peace. But Ben slowly finds that the situation is more complicated than he thought. Readers will be immediately drawn to Adeline, a smart, convincing protagonist; they’ll likely root for her from the start and hope she finds a better life for herself—one that includes the incredibly likable Ben. The unexpected twists and turns that follow seem to lead Adeline further and further away from this possibility, though, and the ending leaves both her (and readers) in a place that’s unimaginable at the start. A number of minor plot points are confusing, including a restaurant confrontation, some unexplained notes, and a memory lapse. But overall, Smoak has written a dark, twisted thriller that’s ultimately a satisfying page-turner.
An often exhilarating read for those who love uncovering the dark secrets of suburbia.