The Wrong Good Deed

Sourcebooks. May 2023. 272p. ISBN 9781728269863. pap. $16.99. THRILLER
One Sunday morning, 70-something Muffin Morgan flees church, claiming she sees a dangerous man from her past. Clemmie, her friend and neighbor, thinks Muffin is overreacting. But when Muffin tells Clemmie a horrible story from her life in the pre-civil rights South, Clemmie realizes her friend has been keeping a terrible secret. The events that unfold bring the pasts of both women to the forefront of their small retirement community, revealing secrets that come with life-threatening consequences. Unfortunately, Cooney’s sequel to Before She Was Helen falls short of the author’s well-known positive reputation. The premise is intriguing, beguiling readers into thinking they’ve picked up a thriller. Even so, the narrative moves confusingly from one character to another, the pace is stagnant, and the climax is sudden and unrelated to the plot. Most disappointing is the tone-deafness of the dialogue and the ignorance toward the continued racism in the characters’ actions—or lack of action.
VERDICT A huge swing and a miss. Libraries and readers should skip this one.
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