The Dilemma

St. Martin’s. Jun. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9781250151360. $27.99. SUSPENSE
Paris’s fourth novel takes place over 24 hours in the life of Livia and Adam, a long-married couple with two grown children. Livia’s 40th birthday party (planned and paid for by her) is a substitute for the dream wedding she missed out on owing to an unexpected teen pregnancy. Paris gives us a snapshot of Adam and Livia’s seemingly perfect life, with alternating chapters narrated by each spouse. The big dilemma is that they both have a secret they aren’t telling the other. The story’s unfolding is excruciatingly slow. Unfortunately, Livia and Adam are rather shallow characters without much backstory, and they come across as immature adults who are playing house. The two grown children are flat, especially daughter Marnie. The secondary characters seem to meld into one another, and it’s hard to keep track of who is who.
VERDICT Paris’s latest is not her usual thriller fare. Fans excited to read the next edge-of-your-seat suspense, such as Paris’s The Breakdown will be disappointed with this sad family drama that combines frivolity and tragedy. [See Prepub Alert, 12/9/19.]

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