One Saturday evening six women sit around a fire, drinking, sharing, oversharing and having fun. The next morning one of the women is missing, her children gone too. What happened to Kristen and her children? And what secrets are the beautuful houses on the street hiding?
The writing is engaging, pulling the reader into the story and allowing them to wonder what has happened to Kristin and her children. Although she doesn’t really appear, she is a fully formed character, as things are revealed about her by the police that wasn’t apparent to her friends. This allows the reader to care more about her and to be more invested in her disappearance.
This is a slow burn of a novel. There are no action sequences, bloody murder scenes or fast paced sections. It is this slow burn that builds the suspense. The reader is always aware that things are not as they seem. As the reality of the situation is revealed the reader is compelled along with Clara to seek out the conclusion to Kristen’s tale.
All of the characters are well drawn. There is Clara, determined to find out what happened to her friend, to figure out what caused her disappearance. Izzy is a completely different character. Where Clara is happily married, Izzy is desperately sad at her single state. Her state of mind is such that, whilst it did grate slightly, is needed for the progression of the story. Then there is Paul, the estranged husband of Kristen, who impinges on the story in many ways.
It is more than just Kristen’s tale. This is a novel about the secrets that any respectable house can hold. It is a story of how rumours can spread rapidly, impinging on lifes in a number of ways. It is a tale that shows that everyone is not always as they seem and people shouldn’t be taken on face value, and that we don’t always know people as well as we think we do.
I throughly enjoyed Not That I Could Tell. I’ll be looking out for more from Jessica Strawser in the future.
There seems to be a surge of "no one really knows their neighbor" tales lately and after reading the blurb, I was seriously hoping to find at the least, a good mystery. The problem is the story is just not particularly mysterious. The answer to Kristin's disappearance is pretty obvious from very early on and the rest of the story is a slow-moving jumble of everyday life with a few tidbits of Kristin's life thrown in. The chapters alternate between Clara, a stay at home mom of two who seems to be friends with everybody, and Izzy, the newest addition to the neighborhood who is trying to get as far away from lost love as possible. Amid the lengthy descriptions of nursing and cranky babies, day care gossip, errands, laundry, housework, meals, etc, we get the odd glimpse of Kristin's estranged husband and various theories about what might have happened to her and the twins. We do get a bit of excitement and a twist at the end, and I will say that the way it all played out was an interesting idea... If the story hadn't been so bogged down in the details of everyday life for this neighborhood, most of which had absolutely nothing to do with Kristin or her disappearance. The only glimpses of the actual investigation that we see are from Clara and Izzy, and those are periphery at best for most of the story, so the bulk of this one boils down to the day to day lives of this neighborhood, which in all honesty, can be heard by having a drink with the neighbors in Any Town, USA on any given evening.
Five females from the neighborhood met in Clare’s back yard no kids or men they woman had baby monitors with them yet still felt free and the drank wine and got a little drunk. Izzy was the newest to the neighborhood. Izzy got toasted and told her neighbors all about Josh who had been her best friend but she fell in love with him but he fell for and married her younger sister. The next morning the women felt the effects of drinking and what they had said while drinking. Then the women learned one of the women who had been with them last night Kristin and her four year old twins had disappeared. Kristin gave no hint of any problems the night before. The knew she was divorcing her husband Paul who was a doctor. Kristin was the type that was on top of everything and had everything handled. When the police searched Kristins computer it did reveal that there were several visits to domestic violence sites. No one had seen Kristin leave but all her personal things were gone as well as the twins favorite toys. Then Paul left the apartment he had lived in and moved back in the house. Clara and Kristin were best friends and Clare had no idea what happened to Kristin. The police’s prime suspect was Paul but they couldn’t find anything so the case went cold.
I enjoyed this book it was a quick easy read. I really liked the fast pace and plot. I liked how as the women got drunk they told things about themselves that they normally would say nothing about or not as much. Then the next day regretted what they had revealed about themselves. I loved the five women so enjoyed their night even if they were only in Claire’s yard. This reminds the readers nobody's perfect no matter how it appeared. I liked the surprise ending. I didn’t want to put this down from the beginning to the end. I really liked how the author had some back story at the beginning of every chapter. The book has: relationships. Neighbors, a drunken night, a missing woman with four year old twins, secrets, betrayal, intrigue, mystery, and suspense, frustration, small town life, drama, and so much way. I really liked the characters and the ins and outs of this book and I recommend it.
By: Jessica Strawser
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: 3/28/2017
My Rating: 4 Stars
In a recent online interview with the author:
. . . “The idea for ‘Almost Missed You’ comes from my own fascination with the idea of fate and the importance people put on meeting ‘the one,’ and on what’s supposedly meant to be,” Jessica explains. “We place such cultural importance on how couples meet, how paths cross and fates intertwine. I wanted to explore if that’s always for the best.”