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All booksContemporary fictionThe Neighbor's Secret
The Neighbor's Secret by L. Alison Heller
Contemporary fiction

The Neighbor's Secret

Early Release
This is an early release that's only available to our members—the rest of the world has to wait 'til next month to read it.

by L. Alison Heller

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, Icon_Movieish


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SuburbanDrama

    Suburban drama

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_BookAboutBooks

    Book about books

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MamaDrama

    Mama drama

Why I love it

Laura Hankin
Author, Happy & You Know 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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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.

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Get an early look from the first pages of The Neighbor's Secret.

Member thoughts

All (14050)
All (14050)
Love (4467)
Like (8113)
Dislike (1470)
14200 ratings
  • 31% Love
  • 57% Like
  • 10% Dislike
  • Louisville, KY

    Loved it!! Obsessed with messy suburban moms! Also love that book clubs are still fighting over Lolita……. Great plot twists… nice slow burn and a satisfying ending. Read it!!! Want more like this one!

  • Niles, OH

    This book kept getting better as the story went on! It’s so easy to get tangled up in the drama of the every day lives of these women, especially once you see that there’s way more beyond the surface.

  • Gettysburg, PA

    An engaging and timely work that answers the question, “How far would you go to protect your child?” And not to worry, even for non-parents like me out there, the characters & questions are relatable.

  • Hollywood, MD

    Right down my alley with the family/mom secrets & drama. My life isn’t crazy but it was very relatable. I loved the mystery thrown into it. I wasn’t even close to guessing the end which is always good

  • Saint Paul, MN

    The pacing of this book kept me engaged, guessing and second-guessing the twist the whole time. There were lots of characters, but their stories were woven together seamlessly. I couldn’t put it down!

  • Beach Haven, NJ

    The only reason I would say this wasn’t a spectacular book, it that it took too long or introduce the real conflict between the characters. I did, however, love that the reader got insight into each.

  • Vienna, VA

    Cracking great look at what mothers will do to protect their children in the guise of a book club murder mystery. It has depth & ties into current conversations about how we label kids (& shouldn’t).

  • Sacramento , CA

    At times through out this story I felt like I could relate to each of the moms in this book. It was a mixture of emotions and very accurate. I liked how the story slowly poured into the full picture.

  • Apex, NC

    This novel with it's complex characterizations of The Cottonwood Book Club women kept me enthralled until the last page! They are the eyes and ears of the neighborhood in this psychological thriller.

  • Colusa, CA

    Damn. Insane! Really made me think about what lengths parents would go to for their children. Kept me wondering and guessing the whole time. I felt tempted to write down clues and notes. Enjoyed this!

  • Philadelphia, PA

    LOVED this book! I thought it was well written and really just had the best twists and turns! I was not expecting the ending nor was I expecting the main culprit! This book will have you on the edge!

  • Austin, TX

    I felt like I was reading a tv script. It was so intriguing with the right amount of description. I felt myself being drawn and torn away from characters. Loving then hating. Rooting for them to fail.

  • Fort Collins, CO

    Love love loved this one! The book was told through multiple people's viewpoints, which I really like in a book, and kept me guessing the whole time. I truly couldn't put it down! Highly recommended.

  • Downingtown, PA

    An enjoyable easy read with a twist and slightly dissatisfying ending. While not the best book, a quick hook leaves you wanting more and fighting to find the person who you can comfortably root for.

  • Princeton, IN

    A consistent page turner. Vibrant characters with relatable problems. There's at least one interesting and diverse character for everyone. An easy suspense. A reminder the grass isn't always greener.

  • Hagerstown, MD

    All I can say is Wow. I did not see ANY of those twists coming. So many twists you get to the end and finally take a breath you realize you’ve been holding since almost the beginning. Best BOTM yet

  • Las Vegas, NV

    An immersive and all around fantastic story with well-crafted characters. Fell in love w/ Jen's wry humor and raw vulnerability when she served as the narrator. I was guessing until the last moments!

  • Natrona Heights, PA

    The story of the families in the Cottonwood Estates was fast-paced & drama-filled with a hint of mystery, which is a perfect combination! My only complaint - I wish the ending hadn't been so rushed.

  • Sparks, NV

    I was hooked on this book at the end of chapter 1. I could not put the book down, I needed to know what happends next. This is the first book I've read from the author and plan on reading more books.

  • Prescott Valley , AZ

    Started out not liking this book. It was slow with too many characters. About a third of the way in, it started to get interesting. So many surprises in the last third of book. I totally recommend.

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