Not That I Could Tell,
by Jessica Strawser
Publication: St. Martin’s Press (March 27, 2018)
About the book:
When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal.
By Monday morning, one of them is gone.
Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. Kristin was a sociable twin mom, college administrator, and doctor’s wife who didn’t seem all that bothered by her impending divorce—and the investigation turns up more questions than answers, with her husband, Paul, at the center. For her closest neighbor, Clara, the incident triggers memories she thought she’d put behind her—and when she’s unable to extract herself from the widening circle of scrutiny, her own suspicions quickly grow. But the neighborhood’s newest addition, Izzy, is determined not to jump to any conclusions—especially since she’s dealing with a crisis of her own.
As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doors—and to ask how well anyone really knows anyone else.
Not That I Could Tell has been setting on my NetGalley shelf for quite some time, and after reading it today, I have no idea why I waited so long to dive into this one. I was already a fan of Jessica Strawser, but I truly loved this psychological suspense novel. On a Saturday night in peaceful Yellow Springs, Ohio, a group of women gathers in their neighbor’s backyard for a night of womanly bonding, laughing, and wine. A few days later, they realize that one of the women, Kristin, is gone. Thus begins a media frenzy paired with ample neighborhood gossip as everyone tries to understand what happened to Kristin and her young twins. Her soon-to-be ex, Paul is a respected OB/GYN but is quickly under the microscope of law enforcement and members of the community. Kristin’s closest friend Clara struggles because of notion there may have been domestic violence which brought back horrific memories from her past. Their newest neighbor, Izzy, is going through her own struggles and sympathizes with Paul’s situation. The only thing evident is that none of these women know each other as well as they thought.
I’ve seen mixed reviews about this novel but I absolutely devoured this one. Initially, the major action centers around Kristin and her children’s disappearance, however, this slowly becomes so much more. Told from Clara and Izzy’s points of view, the reader learns about each woman’s happy moments, fears, disappointments, and regrets. The other woman from that night are also included in the novel, but play a much smaller role than Izzy and Clara. Honestly, the only characters I actually liked in the novel were Rhoda and Randi. These women had a newborn baby, owned a funky boutique in town, and spent time at unusual gatherings in the woods with people adjusting their karma and drinking odd tea. They were hilarious, open-minded, in love, raising their baby, and just great. Izzy got on my last nerve pining over her sister’s husband. Natalie was basically irrelevant. As for Clara, I both loved and hated her throughout the novel, but agreed with her husband Benny (many times) that the woman needed to mind her own business. I gained a different respect for her as the story closed, but still, I just wasn’t a big fan of hers.
Without giving spoilers, I can’t say that I was shocked by the outcome as various passages in between chapters began to allude to what had happened. However, how everything was executed was a complete shocker to me, making me skim back over several portions of the novel to see if there were obvious clues that I had missed. I wish I could’ve liked and/or related to the characters more than I did, but I still found this to be a great novel.
*Thanks to NetGalley for providing this novel in exchange for my honest review.