There’s nothing a little revenge can’t fix in Rouda’s (Best Day Ever, 2017, etc.) diabolical new domestic thriller.
It’s been about a year since Jane Harris’ eldest daughter, Mary, drowned after a fall from a high cliff into the torrential waters off the Southern California coast, plunging Jane into a haze of grief and pills. It’s also been hard for Jane’s husband, David, and artistic younger daughter, Betsy, who is about to graduate from high school. Jane is ready to make her return to the social scene of The Cove, her exclusive neighborhood, and of course as the glue that holds her loving family together. Not so fast. “Loving family” might be an overstatement. After two decades of marriage, Jane discovers David is cheating (those tracker apps come in handy), and Betsy has been doing some sneaking around of her own. Jane has also been getting anonymous notes that indicate Mary’s accident might not have been so accidental and that Betsy might even have had something to do with it. That’s unacceptable. Jane didn’t claw her way up from her horrid Arkansas upbringing for nothing. No one gets away with doing Jane wrong, and absolutely no one gets away with killing her favorite daughter (and Jane repeatedly makes it clear that Mary was her fave). Poor Betsy. In Jane, Rouda delivers another highly damaged and wildly unreliable narrator who is impossible to love but equally impossible to look away from. The utterly shameless Jane takes full advantage of people’s tendency to underestimate her and punctuates her bad behavior with flashes of dark humor. Readers will know they’re surely being duped but will want to find out just how far the deeply narcissistic Jane will go to maintain her carefully constructed veneer of humanity and bend those around her, especially her family, to her will. And revenge is a dish best served cold.
Delightfully wicked fun.