Sunday, January 10, 2010

I didn't do it, it was him!

A young wife and mother, Sandra Jones, disappears and there are no shortage of suspects in Lisa Gardner's novel The Neighbor. I had read good reviews of this book and been thrilled when I finally reached the top of the holds list at the library. Of course, by the time I'd finally been able to check it out, I'd forgotten what it was all about.

I listened to the audio book version and it was read by several narrators, with each major character having his or her own voice. Sandra and her husband Jason Jones are a secretive young couple with a four year old daughter. Sandra works days as a teacher, and Jason works evenings as a reporter so that one of them is always at home with their daughter. One evening Jason returns home from work and finds his wife gone and the daughter home alone. The police become involved and discover many strange things about the couple -- such as the fact that although they live modestly, the Jones family has several million dollars in the bank. Sandra and Jason Jones also seem to have just appeared about 5 years previously, with no information about them going back farther than that.

Naturally, Jason becomes the prime suspect in his wife's disappearance, but luckily for him, there are other suspects -- the register sex offender who lives just down the street, the teen aged boy helping Sandra with computer problems, the teenager's uncle who works as a computer expert for the state police, and Sandra's estranged father. The main problem with this book is that once Sandra disappears, the four main suspects spend an awful lot of time going round and round on why each of the other three suspects must be guilty. There is a lot of action packed in to the resolution at the end, but at least 85% of the book is repetitive filler. We also get a "mystery" of just what in the world Jason was doing on the family computer, but by the time we get the answer, we've long since lost any interest.

None of the characters were particularly likable, so that probably contributed to my lack of interest in the proceedings. This book was OK, but too much time was wasted on trying to make the reader believe that one or the other of the main suspects was the culprit. We could work that out for ourselves, without having it replayed for us from each character's perspective. Frequently.

Final Verdict for The Neighbor: One Gherkin, for being a promising story, but wasting too much time going over familiar ground

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