By: Rebecca Drake
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: 1/9/2018
My Rating: 5 Stars
Rebecca Drake returns following Only Ever You with her latest twisty and intense domestic suspense/psychological thriller JUST BETWEEN US. In the theme of Big Little Lies, a story of four suburban mothers who become immersed in a deadly crime.
Friends and bystanders get more than they bargained for by helping out a friend in need.
“You never really know what happens in someone else’s marriage.”
Set in suburban, Pittsburgh, PA readers are introduced to four women: Alison, Julie, Sarah, and Heather. Between their children and husbands, and their busy lives, they love their favorite coffee shop on Friday mornings. Told from four different POVs.
Julie is a multi-million dollar producer–a successful real estate agent married to Brian a VP of business development for a significant medical device firm. She believes in staying positive. Very social, an extrovert and a great organizer. Red-hair and energic. Obsessed with fitness, yoga, and healthy diet.
Sarah is little harder to like (by Alison). A former lawyer, with other hidden issues. Prickly at times. Alison envied the relationship between Julie and Sarah. They had a friendship before she came along. Sarah is beautiful, biracial and wears lots of brightly colored scarves and jewelry. Sarah did not have the patience for whining. She is very can-do and opinionated. She is married to Eric, a teacher and they pinch pennies with a family of five.
Heather, a former model married to a famous plastic surgeon Viktor. Son Daniel. They have the glamorous life and a large home and staff. She now is a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom), like Sarah, with of course— a much more substantial household income.
Alison is an IT consultant, and the women think she has an overactive imagination. She is tall and introverted. (She is the most intriguing). My pick. She had little interest in the country-club life or team sports. She comes across a little desperate, lonely, and needy to the others. She and Michael had moved to Pittsburgh because of Michael’s job transfer. No one knew her unfortunate past. The women think she is negative at times. Often her personality rubs Sarah the wrong way.
Julie and Alison had kept their careers. Sarah and Heather had not. There was a big difference between the disposal income of course between Heather and Sarah.
Each of the women has their juicy dark secrets. (Heather, in particular).
Alison is the first to be suspicious of Heather and her bruises. When comforted, she brushes it off. The other women do not seem to suspect a problem with the handsome and charming doctor. Even the broken dishes in the house. Could it have been something sexual she does not want to discuss?
Should they mind their own business or try and help? Julie thought Alison was wrong. Is Alison too overly cautious due to her family history?
Even though Heather denies it at first; however, she ultimately confesses. (think Big Little Lies Celeste and Perry Wright). (things do not play out the same.) She pretends all is ok in their household. From the exterior, they looked like the perfect family.
The friends begin their own sleuthing and investigating into Viktor’s past. His former wife died. However, was it accidental? They slowly discover secrets Heather has not shared until it is too late. Things get complicated. The women fear for her safety and her young son.
“The strange thing about a secret is it longs to be told.” Suddenly that is all you can think about.
Then the call comes. Someone is dead.
Self-defense? A crime scene. How involved will they become? There are secrets in every marriage. This is "only" the beginning of the unraveling.
Nothing, or no one is as they appear.
“There are no monsters, just deeply flawed people, all of us given that power to choose, some of us making choices to damaging that they ruin the lives of those they claim to love.”
Drake cranks up the intensity and the adrenaline. She expertly weaves a web of deceit and lies and keeps the reader guessing what will come next.
You feel the fear and hysteria from each of the women. The mistrust. In the blink of an eye, things change, and everyone is making impulsive decisions which lead to consequences.
At 40-45% into the book, you wonder what could be coming next? Plenty! It is just getting started.
Someone is watching. Were they not careful enough? A letter. Photos. Blackmail. Video Things get very complicated.
Action-packed, the hidden secrets behind the façade of ordinary women, across social classes and moral lines. How far would you go to protect a friend? Friendships tested. Betrayal.
Had they been duped? Will they turn on one another? Who can be trusted? Excusing behaviors.
“Brushing way the inconsistencies in character. Finding plausibility in the implausible because we want to believe the person we love is incapable of ugliness.”
The lies we tell ourselves and others. Lines are not always clear between good and evil. Perpetrator and victim.
On a serious note, a peek inside of domestic abuse and violence. It is not always wrapped, in a clear package.
“We hurt those that we love; we make choices that we can’t undo, we throw ourselves headlong into battles in the name of rescuing people who never asked to be saved.”
With all this sleuthing, not sure how they could find the time for their families. However, I was dying to know what happens. Hooked from page one to the grand finale.
JUST BETWEEN US, will keep you reading past your bedtime to learn the secrets held close. I enjoyed the different POVs from the women. The drama was balanced nicely with suspense and humor. Some clever twists and turns you are not expecting. Unpredictable.
I am glad the author chose to end the book with Alison speaking. Very fitting. Underneath the drama, a cautionary tale. The novel is an ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions.
For fans of Desperate Housewives, and twisty domestic suspense thrillers. A few come to mind:
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, The Perfect Neighbors by Sarah Pekkanen, Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris, The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White, The Good Girl by Mary Kubica, and The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard. Looking forward to seeing what comes next!
A special thank you to St. Martin's Griffin and #NetGalley for an advanced reading copy.
A twisty, domestic thriller [...] tense, bombshell-laden, and action-packed." ― Publisher's Weekly
"Female friendships flourish, then falter, under the weight of chance events underlaid by secrecy and deceit [...] Drake shows a sure hand in spinning suburban thrillers." ―Booklist
"Rebecca Drake's Just Between Us is suspense at its best--a riveting, fast-paced psychological thriller that brilliantly explores the limits of friendship and the secrets we keep from one another." ― New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline
"Fans of Liane Moriarty and B.A. Paris are going to love this twisty, diabolical suburban thriller. Clear your evening, you won't be able to put it down." ― J.T. Ellison, New York Times bestselling author of Lie to Me
"Rebecca Drake's Just Between Us is a stunner - a tense, twisty thriller about four ordinary women that begs the question: When a friend is in trouble, and all you want to do is help, how can everything go so terribly wrong?" ― Karen Dionne, author The Marsh King's Daughter
"Rebecca Drake's Just Between Us is a riveting thriller that reveals the dark heart beating in the middle of American suburbia. Every character in this rich novel has a secret, and the secrets get deeper and darker as the pitch-perfect plot unfolds. This is a stunning story of friendship and the tangled lies that bind four women together. Don't miss it!" ― David Bell, author of Bring Her Home
About the Author
Photo Credit: Joseph Mertz
REBECCA DRAKE is the author of the novels Don’t Be Afraid, The Next Killing, The Dead Place, which was an IMBA bestseller, and Only Ever You, as well as the short story “Loaded,” which was featured in Pittsburgh Noir.
A graduate of Penn State University and former journalist, she is currently an instructor in Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction M.F.A. program.
Rebecca lives in Pittsburgh, PA, with her husband and two children. Read More