Friday, November 12, 2021

Helen is pregnant after several miscarriages and signs herself and her husband up for prenatal classes. 

When her husband doesn't attend the first class, she pairs up with the only other single person there, a young woman named Rachel.  Soon Rachel is popping up all over the place and before long she asks if she can stay with Helen for a few days.  Helen is somewhat reluctant, but feels unable to refuse.  The slovenly Rachel takes up residence in Helen's huge family home in Greenwich Park in London.  Rachel's husband Daniel isn't too thrilled with their houseguest, either, but he is out working most of the time, so it falls to Helen to deal with Rachel.  When Helen is persuaded to hold a big Bonfire Night party at the house, her brothers Rory and Charlie attend with their partners.  Charlie, the somewhat irresponsible younger brother, also invites numerous acquaintances who proceed to turn the event into a drink and drug-fueled frenzy.  Things finally come to a head with Rachel when Helen discovers some strange items hidden in her room, and Rachel is finally told to leave.  After this, she disappears and is reported missing by her father.  Helen feels guilty and beings trying to figure out what happened to Rachel.  At the same time, she also begins to get strange messages about her and Daniel's finances.  The police begin to take a closer look at Helen's brothers and their possible connections to Rachel.  

The chapters are told in alternating voices between Helen, Rory's wife Serena, and Charlie's partner Katie (a reporter who is also investigating Rachel's disappearance).  The action moves along quite quickly and of course, before we find out what happens to Rachel, Helen will find herself and her unborn baby in danger as well.  I found Helen so hard to like or root for.  She just sort of drifts along without telling anyone how she feels or attempting to find out what is going on in her own life.  She snoops around in her sister-in-law's house and is so jealous of the beautiful Serena that what ever Serena has, Helen soon copies and buys as well.  She thinks she makes "discoveries" and tells people her theories before she's even worked out what is going on.  There is an "afterward" section that attempts to tie up loose ends, but it's very convoluted and long and is somewhat unconvincing.  Overall, the story was enjoyable, but it was let down somewhat by the long and drawn-out final explanations.

I received an Advance Reader's Edition from the publisher.

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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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