A woman attempts to retrace the steps leading up to her best friend’s sudden disappearance, and all paths lead to a rape that occurred more than a decade ago.
In 2005, 17-year-old Ellen was fascinated with her new neighbors, the bohemian Monktons. Olivia was a celebrated opera singer, her husband, Tony, a talented bassoonist, and their two teenage boys, Nicholas and Daniel, were both musically gifted. But the most fascinating one of all was the ethereally beautiful Sasha, Olivia’s goddaughter, who lived with them. Olivia and Tony regularly threw lavish parties where alcohol flowed freely among the adults and the teenagers, and Ellen eventually became close with Sasha, much to the chagrin of her best friend, Karina, who was pushed to the side. When Daniel was accused of raping Karina, all hell broke loose, and Sasha, Karina, and Ellen all had to testify at his trial. Now he’s out of prison and Sasha has gone missing from the apartment she shares with Ellen. Ellen is terrified that Daniel has carried out the threats he’s made against them in the past, but as she questions their friends and families and revisits the night of the rape, the line between truth and lies begins to blur. The narration moves between past and present and the viewpoints of Ellen, Olivia, and Karina. Olivia’s observations during Daniel’s trial are poignant, as she struggles with the urge to protect her beloved son and the horror that he just might have done what he’s been accused of. Marshall (Friend Request, 2017) knows her way around the complicated, sometimes-fraught nature of female friendship, and she doles out plenty of expertly placed red herrings. The Monktons are like something out of a V.C. Andrews drama: Their foibles affect nearly everyone in their orbit, with disastrous consequences. Ultimately, this road is well-traveled, but Marshall is a competent storyteller, and readers will be mostly content to ride along to the slightly contrived, but satisfying, finale.
Suspenseful fare that will resonate in the #MeToo era.