Risking reproach from English majors everywhere, sometimes a
cliché is all that will work. Just as you have to kiss a lot
of frogs to find the prince, a reviewer has to slog through a lot
of average reads to find a keeper. THE GIRL NEXT DOOR is that
pleasant surprise we all hope to find when reading a new author.
Although she has written three previous novels, Patricia MacDonald
is not yet well known but is sure to achieve that status if she
continues to write like this.
THE GIRL NEXT DOOR is anything but what the title may imply. It is
a deftly written thriller that will keep you reading well past your
bedtime, as you try to unravel the carefully crafted clues that
pepper the pages. In addition to the intricate plot, MacDonald has
created characters who elicit empathy; you care about what happens
to them. For me, this is rare in books that are not part of a
series in which I have already grown fond of the players.
Nina Avery is a budding actress, working in commercials and
off-Broadway theaters. She is affable, people like her and try to
help her succeed. She is also the daughter of Duncan Avery, a
convicted murderer, who is up for parole after spending 15 years in
prison for the murder of his wife, Nina's mother Marsha. Nina never
believed that her father was guilty and was as fiercely defensive
of him as her brothers, Jimmy and Patrick, were condemning toward
Once Duncan wins his parole, MacDonald begins her exploration into
the pathology of a dysfunctional family, and that's where the
suspense begins. Her keen observations of the many facets of
obsession are thorough without being tedious. The ending will
surprise some, but others will see it coming about halfway through
the book. She provides foreshadowing but neatly holds enough back
to keep you guessing. Though the themes are often heavy, the tale
never bogs down and there is even a bit of a love story included
for us romantics. I am definitely looking forward to reading
Patricia MacDonald's other books, STRANGER IN THE HOUSE, SUSPICIOUS
ORIGIN and NOT GUILTY.