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Someone We Know


Someone We Know

If someone were to hack into your computer, what would they discover about you? A secret shopping addiction? Strange porn proclivities? Financial misdeeds? If you’re alive in the 21st century, you have an online footprint. If someone were to clandestinely check yours without context, would that be good or bad for you? Shari Lapena’s latest domestic thriller, SOMEONE WE KNOW, is all about secrets --- the ones we keep, and the ones we don’t want to admit, even to ourselves. It starts with a hacking, and before you know it, a full-scale murder investigation is hanging over the town, with new suspects emerging every minute.

In the small upscale Hudson Valley town of Aylesford, New York, the streets are wide and the people are friendly. No one expects something like this to happen here. Not in a town like this, and not to someone we know. It all started with young Raleigh, the teenage son of Paul and Olivia Sharpe. Raleigh has taken to breaking into random local houses --- not for the purposes of stealing anything, but to hack into their computers. The thrill and unexpected rush he gains from doing this is just a bonus. From his midnight invasions, he learns all about what his neighbors are up to. He’s “starting to understand that everyone has secrets --- he’s seen what some people keep on their computers; nothing really surprises him anymore. Raleigh has secrets, and his parents obviously have theirs, too. Perhaps he should be snooping in his own house.”

"[R]eaders are drawn in from the start and captivated right through to its breathless resolution... In addition to beguiling readers, it will, at the very least, send you running to clear your computer search histories."

But when a local woman goes missing and later is discovered in the trunk of her car, brutally murdered, everyone in this small town soon learns there are some secrets you should never know. How could something this violent, this gruesome, happen here and to someone they know? The stunned residents must ask themselves: Could this murder have been committed by someone they know?

After discovering that her son has been breaking into neighbors’ houses, Olivia is aghast and wants to admonish him so he realizes the gravity of the situation. But she can’t let him be arrested for his crimes and sent to prison, thus ruining the life she and her husband have laid out for him. So she decides to pen an anonymous note to the neighbors, apologizing for her son’s actions and promising he’ll never do it again.

At the same time, Amanda Pierce, a young married woman from down the street, is reported missing by her husband, Robert. She was supposed to be joining a friend in New York City for a shopping weekend but never returned. When Robert calls her friend, he is surprised to learn that there was no such trip planned and Amanda was not with her. Everyone in town, including the police, believe she must have run off with another man. But when her car is found submerged in a lake, with her battered body in the trunk, suddenly the locals stop talking about the break-ins. They now have something more sinister on which to focus their attentions.

Even though Aylesford is small, no one really knew Amanda or Robert very well. They had moved to town just a few years ago, and being in their late 20s, they were a bit younger than the average age of their neighbors. Amanda might not have been known well, but she was noticed by all: “She remembers what Amanda was like, the one time she ever really saw her, at the party last year. It was a warm, sunny day in September. Amanda was wearing a short yellow sundress, showing off her sleek, tanned legs. Her toenails were perfectly painted and she was wearing high-heeled sandals. Glenda and Olivia had stopped wearing short sundresses a long time ago. Now they wore capri pants and flat sandals and talked about getting the veins in their legs fixed.”

So it’s easy to see why Amanda might gain the ardor of the town’s husbands and the ire of their wives. And stranger still, Robert’s behavior is anything but the grieving widower of a slain woman. Could he have discovered that his wife was unfaithful and murdered her for it? If she was having an affair, maybe her paramour killed her? But as suspects begin to pile up by the day, neighbor starts to view neighbor with guarded suspicion. If the victim was someone they know, could the same be said for the murderer?

Much like she did in THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR, Shari Lapena deftly constructs a tale of suburban angst and ennui gone murderously awry. Rear Window wasn’t the first instance of a person wondering what’s going on behind a neighbor’s closed door. It’s a concept to which we can all relate. In Lapena’s tale of secrets and lies, readers are drawn in from the start and captivated right through to its breathless resolution, making SOMEONE WE KNOW the perfect read for fans of Ruth Ware, Megan Miranda and Riley Sager. In addition to beguiling readers, it will, at the very least, send you running to clear your computer search histories.

Reviewed by Bronwyn Miller on August 2, 2019

Someone We Know
by Shari Lapena