A down-on-her-luck divorcée falls for a younger guy and faces one disaster after another.
This second installment of The Dangerous Things Trilogy continues to tell the story of hapless Hester Randal. Following the catastrophic demise of her marriage in the first novel (On the Edge of Dangerous Things, 2013), middle-aged Hester is now single, broke, unemployable, and effectively homeless. In order to make ends meet, she is forced to sell many of the valuable belongings she has acquired over the years. She ends up at a flea market in Lambertville, New Jersey, where she sells her treasures for far less than they are worth. The strapping young owner of the flea market, Jimmy Raymer, takes pity on Hester, his altruism culminating in their drunken lovemaking in the back of a van. In his post-coital guilt, Jimmy offers Hester lodging in the closet of his office at the flea market. Meanwhile, Jimmy reunites with his ex-fiancee, Cecilia Kurts, a woman who brings nothing but misery to Hester’s already complicated life. As Hester tries to navigate her personal difficulties, her relationship with Jimmy and Cecilia grows increasingly precarious, and the reader fears for Hester’s sanity as well as her safety. In this raw and gritty sequel, Snyder-Carroll (Click…Kill, 2015, etc.) unapologetically details Hester’s many mistakes and miscalculations, decisions that repeatedly sabotage the character’s own happiness. The writing is chock-full of rich imagery and cringeworthy descriptions of the deterioration of Hester’s physical appearance and personal hygiene as she battles poverty (at one point, she muses about “rummaging through the trash and sleeping in the same clothes for a couple of weeks now”). With a character-driven plot and fast-paced storyline, the tale should easily keep readers engaged. Despite the accessible nature of the narrative style, the book tackles many weighty topics in this sobering story, ranging from mental health issues and sexual identity to infertility, blended families, and child custody. Suspenseful situations and improbable hope should keep readers turning pages as they race to determine whether Hester will ever manage to get anything right. Loose ends abound at the tale’s conclusion, leaving plenty of room for the next installment.
A heartbreaking commentary on the importance of making sound choices.