Monday, 23 January 2017

Book Review: The Woman Next Door by Cass Green

Book: The Woman Next Door 

Author: Cass Green 

Pages: 304 

Read in: 3 hours

Read on: Kindle 

Plot Summary: Two suburban women. Two dark secrets. The almost perfect murder. Everybody needs good neighbours…

Melissa and Hester have lived next door to each other for years. When Melissa’s daughter was younger, Hester was almost like a grandmother to her. But recently they haven’t been so close.
Hester has plans to change all that. It’s obvious to her that despite Melissa’s outwardly glamorous and successful life, she needs Hester’s help.
But taking help from Hester might not be such a good idea for a woman with as many secrets as Melissa. 

Things I Liked:

1. The premise of the book seemed interesting. Two neighbours, both with secrets and one of them wanting to become indispensable in the other person's life. Isn't that interesting?! Gotta love a book about a psycho neighbour.. because that's what Hester is! 

2. The characters are interesting. Melissa, clearly, has a past she is not too proud of and has taken great pains to keep from her successful doctor husband and teenaged daughter. This is the secret that makes Melissa all jittery and anxious when someone from that same past shows up at her doorstep during a party. 

Hester is a lonely old woman.. she lives alone with a dog called Bertie and spends her days gently (and then not-so-gently) spying on Melissa and her family's groceries and other shenanigans from her bedroom window. She is desperate to be friends with Melissa and I think somewhere the author, who is obviously very, very inspired by Notes on a Scandal, has tried to make this obsession seem slightly homoerotic. Hester is a well written character.. she is quietly creepy and menacing as she prowls around Melissa's house eavesdropping on conversations etc. 

3. The series of events that bring the two women together and becomes their shared secret is also interesting, but could have been a bit more compelling. 

4. The book is pretty fast-paced and you never get bored as a reader. 

5. There are also interesting flashbacks about Melissa's childhood and teenage years as well as of Hester's life with her husband, Terry, which are quite interesting and offer interesting insights into both these characters, especially, what drives them. 

Things I Didn't Like: 

1. From the blurb as well as the plot summary of the book, I was expecting this to be a "dark, gripping, psychological thriller". This book is nothing of that sort at all. It is, mildly dark at the best of times and just very 'meh' at the others. 

2. Hester's "dark secret" is fairly predictable, especially, once you read all her internal monologue about the said character about whom this "dark secret" is about.. Also, you can pretty much guess why she is so desperate to help Melissa.. So, that was not fun!

3. The ending was a bit rushed. It was like the story got too out of hand for the author and she just gave up and gave us a pretty tame ending, which, in my opinion, did not suit Hester's character at all. 

Rating: 3/5 

This is not a bad book.. in fact, the build up is very nicely done. Worth a read if you like more character-based, motivation-based crime thrillers. 

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