MYSTERY

If She Were Dead

Sourcebooks. Jan. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9781492669036. pap. $15.99. SUSPENSE
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Best-selling novelist Amelie Ferrar, recently divorced and an empty-nester, has a schedule filled with book signings and interviews while finding time to write her next book. Yet her mind is consumed with love for Ben, the married father of her daughter’s classmate with whom she’s having an affair. Ben’s wife, Janet, edges her way into Amelie’s life, making Amelie suspicious that she knows about the affair. When Ben rebuffs Amelie’s urgings for him to get divorced so the two of them can marry, her obsession deepens, and she becomes fixated on how to get Janet out of the way. In this psychological exploration of one woman’s descent into loneliness and obsession, Smith’s (The Drowning) detailed and nuanced prose, along with a stifling portrayal of small-town life, are assets. Yet the pace is a bit too leisurely to create tension, and the action doesn’t pick up until the last few chapters.
VERDICT For readers seeking an unsympathetic portrayal of “the other woman,” but with the ample offerings of domestic thrillers available, this is an optional purchase.

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