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The Neighbor's Secret by L. Alison Heller

Contemporary fiction

The Neighbor's Secret

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by L. Alison Heller

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Quick Take

A suburban book club discovers life can be more disturbing than fiction when a vandal disrupts life on the cul-de-sac.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Movieish

    Movieish

  • Illustrated icon, Suburban

    Suburban drama

  • Illustrated icon, Book_About_Books

    Book about books

  • Illustrated icon, Mama_Drama

    Mama drama

Synopsis

With its sprawling yards and excellent schools, Cottonwood Estates is the perfect place to raise children. The Cottonwood Book Club serves as the subdivision’s eyes and ears, meeting once a month for discussion, gossip, and cocktails. If their selections trend toward twisty thrillers and salacious murder mysteries, it’s only because the members feel secure that such evil has no place in their own cul-de-sacs.

Or does it?

What happened to Lena’s family fifteen years ago was a tragic accident, and she will never admit otherwise. Devoted wife and mother Annie refuses to acknowledge—even to herself—the weight of a past shame. And new resident Jen wants friends, but as always, worry about her troubled son gets in the way.

When late-night acts of vandalism target the women of the book club in increasingly violent and personal ways, they will be forced to decide how far to go to keep their secrets. At least they all agree on what’s most important: protecting their children at any cost—even if it means someone has to die.

Why I love it

I’m a sucker for novels about suburban mothers hiding damaging secrets. While reading these books might be easy—give me a free evening, and I’m liable to devour all 350 pages in one go—writing them well is incredibly challenging. To be able to portray these well-off women with equal parts satire and empathy? To write about murder while somehow leaving the reader feeling hopeful about human nature? Well, that takes the gifts of someone like L. Alison Heller.

The Neighbor’s Secret drops us into the world of Cottonwood Estates, an idyllic subdivision where the schools are good, and mayhem is contained only between the pages of whatever novel the neighborhood’s book club is discussing that month. That is, until a mysterious vandal starts making trouble, causing some of the women in the club to confront long-buried secrets that threaten to rip their peaceful lives apart. While the characters’ skeletons are (hopefully) far more gasp-inducing than anything lurking in readers’ own closets, their hopes and worries are all too recognizable. Above all, they want to protect their children.

Mixing dark comedy, big twists, and an over-caffeinated book club dictator who loves sending emails full of ALL-CAPS AND TOO MANY EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!, The Neighbor’s Secret will have you reading “just one more chapter, I swear” late into the night.

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Contemporary fiction
View all
The Last Love Note
Anita de Monte Laughs Last
The Leftover Woman
Interesting Facts about Space
Bye, Baby
Swan Song
How to Read a Book
The Connellys of County Down
Joe Nuthin’s Guide to Life
A Summer Affair
Adelaide
The Collected Regrets of Clover
Evil Eye
Maame
Advika and the Hollywood Wives
Once There Were Wolves
We Are the Brennans
Olga Dies Dreaming
If Only I Could Tell You
How Lucky
My Dark Vanessa
Nine Perfect Strangers
Honey Girl
One Italian Summer
Eight Hundred Grapes
The Unraveling of Cassidy Holmes
The Five-Star Weekend
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto
The Nest
Rich and Pretty
Britt-Marie Was Here
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
Startup
The Identicals
The Dinner List
Goodbye, Paris
Winter in Paradise
A Woman Is No Man
Queenie
Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Beyond the Point
What Happens in Paradise
Nothing to See Here
When We Were Vikings
Anxious People
A Good Neighborhood
Big Summer
The Last Story of Mina Lee
Troubles in Paradise
White Ivy
This Close to Okay
The Removed
The Kindest Lie
Good Company
Impostor Syndrome
The Other Black Girl
Apples Never Fall
A Quiet Life
We Are the Light
The Fortunes of Jaded Women
When We Were Bright and Beautiful
The Hotel Nantucket