An intriguing cast of characters and an untimely death set the stage for a chick-lit, murder mystery in Rouda’s (Here, Home, Hope, 2011) latest novel.
A trio of strong women living in Grandville, Ohio, forms the centerpiece of Rouda’s absorbing new novel. Ellen Anderson, a housewife, searches for a purpose as she struggles with infertility and an adulterous husband. Despite her big house and expensive lifestyle, Ellen is lonely and lost. She desperately wants a baby, but decides to job-hunt when it appears that her dream will never be realized. When she pays attention to something other than her cheating husband, Ellen’s life takes a new direction, and she joins an advertising agency. Laura Mercer is a driven and successful television anchor who has concentrated solely on her career. She’s a local celebrity, despised by her co-workers and wants nothing more than to leave her Midwestern town for something bigger and better. Despite her abrasive haughtiness, she exhibits admirable confidence and drive. Finally, Angie Brown is Laura’s roommate, a perpetual adulterer and occasional waitress with an affinity for rich, married men. Her affairs place her on a crash course with several other affluent and powerful families. In addition to these three women, Rouda juggles a large cast of supporting personalities, including a gossip writer, a fallen real estate magnate and a sleazy businessman. Their lives intersect at various high-society functions and become more entangled following an unexpected and suspicious death. The murder mystery serves as a captivating backdrop to the finely drawn characters in Rouda’s story, and the twist at the end is a fantastic revelation. It’s a nod to Rouda’s talent that despite the inherent (and severe) flaws each woman displays, the reader still forms an attachment to each of them.
A light, engaging read that keeps readers guessing until the end.