Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser – review

Published by Hodder and Stoughton

Publication date – 5 April 2018

Source – review copy

How well can you really know your neighbours, when looks can be so deceiving?

Drinks in hand, a group of neighbourhood women gather around a fire pit to enjoy a rare child-less Saturday night. Giddy with freedom, they drink too much, share secrets they wish, perhaps, they hadn’t, and enjoy getting to know each other better.

The single newcomer. The imperfect mom. The new-born parents. The military wife. The almost divorcee.

Come Monday morning, one of them is gone.

As a police investigation launches, the women will band together and ask whether they should have noticed that something was amiss. But how well can you really know your neighbours, when appearances can be so deceiving?

As long as you believe that what you see is what you get, I get to stay this way.

One Saturday evening six women sit around a fire, drinking, sharing, oversharing and having fun. The next morning one of the women is missing, her children gone too. What happened to Kristen and her children? And what secrets are the beautuful houses on the street hiding?

The writing is engaging, pulling the reader into the story and allowing them to wonder what has happened to Kristin and her children. Although she doesn’t really appear, she is a fully formed character, as things are revealed about her by the police that wasn’t apparent to her friends. This allows the reader to care more about her and to be more invested in her disappearance.

This is a slow burn of a novel. There are no action sequences, bloody murder scenes or fast paced sections. It is this slow burn that builds the suspense. The reader is always aware that things are not as they seem. As the reality of the situation is revealed the reader is compelled along with Clara to seek out the conclusion to Kristen’s tale.

All of the characters are well drawn. There is Clara, determined to find out what happened to her friend, to figure out what caused her disappearance. Izzy is a completely different character. Where Clara is happily married, Izzy is desperately sad at her single state. Her state of mind is such that, whilst it did grate slightly, is needed for the progression of the story. Then there is Paul, the estranged husband of Kristen, who impinges on the story in many ways.

It is more than just Kristen’s tale. This is a novel about the secrets that any respectable house can hold. It is a story of how rumours can spread rapidly, impinging on lifes in a number of ways. It is a tale that shows that everyone is not always as they seem and people shouldn’t be taken on face value, and that we don’t always know people as well as we think we do.

I throughly enjoyed Not That I Could Tell. I’ll be looking out for more from Jessica Strawser in the future.

About the author

By day, Jessica Strawser is editor-at-large for Writer’s Digest magazine, North America’s leading publication for aspiring and working writers since 1920. By night, she is a fiction writer of two novels: ALMOST MISSED YOU and NOT THAT I COULD TELL (publishing in the UK in April 2018). And by the minute, she is a proud wife and mom to two super sweet and super young kids in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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