A fresh start for a doctor and her family becomes a living nightmare in Kubica’s (When the Lights Go Out, 2018, etc.) new psychological thriller.
Human ecology professor Will Foust and his wife, Sadie, a doctor, have two boys, 14-year-old Otto and 7-year-old Tate. On the outside, they look like the perfect family. After Will’s sister, Alice, dies from an apparent suicide, Sadie hopes that she and Will can provide stability for Alice’s 16-year-old daughter, Imogen. They’ve also decided to leave Chicago and move into Alice’s home on a small island off the coast of Maine, which Will has inherited. Unfortunately, Sadie, who used to practice emergency medicine, finds no satisfaction in her work at a local clinic; Otto is starting to show signs of the problems Sadie hoped he’d left behind; and though she understands that Imogen is devastated in the wake of her mother’s death, the girl is behaving in a downright alarming way, including gleefully showing Sadie a picture she took of her mother as she hung from the attic rafters. Sadie also thinks Will might be cheating on her. Again. The family tension stretches to a breaking point when a neighbor woman (whom Sadie thinks Will has been cozying up to) is stabbed to death. It’s not long before Sadie finds herself at the center of a murder investigation. Kubica ably molds Sadie into a (very) complicated woman with simmering secrets; as usual, she is a master of atmospherics who can turn almost any location into a swirling cesspool of creepy possibility. However, in a story told from multiple perspectives—first person and otherwise—a few are less compelling than others, such as that of over-the-top Camille, who claims to be having an affair with Will. And while Kubica sprinkles in a few clues about the big twist, she still asks readers to suspend disbelief to the breaking point.
A page-turner that doesn’t quite stick the landing.