BAD NEIGHBORS by Kathrine Beck


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 Predictable but well-wrought domestic thriller from mystery weaver K.K. Beck (Cold Smoked, 1995, etc.) that seemingly aims to meld a host of pop-culture references--from Martha Stewart Living to The Hand That Rocks the Cradle to Fatal Attraction. The Jamisons, David and Anita, are going through a rough patch in their marriage. Ever since David fled his gig as a Seattle advertising guy, he's been freelancing--with limited success--out of his home, tending (poorly) to the couple's two daughters, Lily and Sylvie, while his wife struggles with her job as a clothing buyer. Anita has had it with David's promises to get back into advertising via two-bit local accounts. The interesting hook here- -and what keeps Beck's plot humming--is that the Jamisons are cruising for a divorce long before Sue Heffernan and her husband, Roger, move in next door. Sue's a veritable vision of maternal grace next to career-concerned Anita: She decorates in a nurturing style, takes time out for Anita's girls, knows how to mold aspics. Sue also has her sights set on Sylvie, the younger of Anita and David's daughters (Sue herself is stuck with two sons who spend all their time playing video games). After she carves a doorway in the hedge that separates her house from the Jamison place, Sue becomes a constant presence in their lives, volunteering her domestic services so that David can slip ever deeper into lethargic self-pity. Meanwhile, Anita flings herself into an affair with a lawyer, a move that her mother (who detests David) applauds. David, not one to be outdone, commits his own infidelity with Sue. Anita files for divorce, Sue's husband drops dead under suspicious circumstances, and David takes a few more steps into Sue's web. . . . A reasonably compelling effort that derives juice more from its characters' grumblings about house-bound mundanity than anything truly scary.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-385-48346-5
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1996


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