Children's-book author McKenzie follows her first adult novel (Close My Eyes, 2013) with another intense thriller.
Livy's best friend, Julia, both texts and calls her, saying that she needs to speak to her right away, but Livy ignores her pleas. Livy’s having issues of her own: She’s about to attend an office party with her husband, Will, where she's going to have to meet Catrina, a woman Will had an affair with six years earlier. Livy almost left Will when she found out about the affair, but she stayed for the kids—sweet-natured Zack and the selfish, incredibly annoying Hannah. Livy became best friends with Julia following the murder of Livy’s younger sister, Kara, who had been Julia's good friend, and now Julia, a single freelance journalist, is Hannah’s godmother. When Livy and the kids go to Julia's house and find her dead of an apparent overdose of Nembutal and alcohol, the day after Livy didn't respond to her messages, she becomes convinced that Julia was murdered. When her investigation shows Julia’s life was both happy and fulfilled and that she had been looking into Kara’s killing, Livy becomes even more convinced that she's right. McKenzie employs two of the same techniques she used in Close My Eyes: She offers an alternate voice in the form of chapters narrated by the unnamed killer, talking about cruelty to the family cat and all the women he’s killed in sometimes very explicit detail. She also alternates from present to past tense, depending upon which character tells the story, with the murderer speaking in the past and Livy’s tale told in the present. The killer’s story works best, with less self-conscious prose, but unlike authors who foreshadow so much that the reader knows the identity of the killer, McKenzie employs a light touch, surprising readers as they follow along.
McKenzie ups her game in this one.