The Wife Between Us

I have no clue how I came to read this book. I must have read some short snippet about it on MOLib2Go, thought it sounded interesting, and placed it on hold. The hold list must have been a long one, because when the notice came that it was my turn I had absolutely no recollection of the book or of placing it on hold.

Notification came at a good time. I’d just finished a book and had nothing in my personal queue. Gone are the days I can juggle five and six books at a time.

It is going to be really hard to write a review of “The Wife Between Us” by Greer Hendricks with no spoilers.

It must have been the publisher’s blurb that caught my attention. How can someone resist, “When you read this book, you will make many assumptions. You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife. You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement. Assume nothing. Read between the lies.”

Everyone has a secret in this book. Richard, the hedge-fund banker husband is rich and kind and generous. Nellie is the bride-to-be, a preschool teacher and part-time waitress about to enter her new marriage. She loves her life, but someone is following her and making voiceless calls to her cell phone, making her nervous and jumpy. But Richard is ever-present, calming her and making her feel secure.

Vanessa is the bitter, alcohol abusing ex-wife who makes ends meet by living with her aunt and working at Saks. Maureen is Richard’s older sister to whom he is extremely close. Despite Nellie’s hopes to become close to Maureen, this doesn’t happen

Are they really as they seem? Remember the publisher blurb.

I read this book in the audio version. I was disappointed in the narrator to begin with and was prepared to blast her in this review, but as with everything else in this, nothing is as it seems. The narration made sense at the end.

There are twists and turns everywhere in this book. Being warned ahead of time of them, I tried to figure things out ahead of time. I was still blindsided a couple times. I can remember listening with my mouth hanging open (literally) and thinking, “What just happened here?! Is what I think what it is?!”

This audiobook had me hanging. I use audiobooks for my daily commute. This one had me hooked enough, I listened to it doing housework, laundry, and cooking. I even sat in a few parking lots because the chapter wasn’t over when I’d arrived at my destination.

I mulled what was happening over and over in my mind. What did I believe? Who did I believe?

Now that I’ve finished listening to this book, I want to get the print copy to re-read and double check that the clues were already there. Some reviewers didn’t like the final twist, but I found the denouement satisfying.

Joplin Public Library has this book in large print, regular print, audio and ebook through MoLib2Go. I challenge you to read this and see if you can sort fact from fiction and truth from lies. Try “reading between the lies”.

Review by Jacque Gage.

The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

I recently finished the Stella Crown mysteries by Judy Clemens. Stella is an interesting character, a tattooed, Harley-riding dairy farmer. Set in Pennsylvania, the series highlights the hardships of small dairy operations and provides some insight into the Mennonite community.

After finishing the last book I used NoveList in our catalog (a reader’s advisory tool the library subscribes to) to find similar books. It’s easy to use. Search for your title or author, choose Full Display (below Where Is It in the catalog) then scroll down.

Depending on the title you may see all the books in the series, read-alikes for the title, author, and series, story elements, reviews and more. Story elements are the parts of a story such as character, plot, and setting. I chose the story elements of atmospheric and intricately plotted then wandered through the results.

One click led to another and I found The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda. Miranda writes psychological suspense which is not the genre for the Stella Crown books. But like Clemens, Miranda has crafted an intricately woven plot that keeps you turning the pages.

Leah Stevens had it all, an apartment in Boston, a budding romance with Noah and the journalism career she’d work so hard to get. Then it was all gone.  She had a routine assignment to write a piece about the lack of mental health care on a college campus with 4 suicides in the last year. But the circumstances of the last suicide were too familiar to Leah and the story became something else entirely. Consumed with finding and printing the truth Leah steps over the line. Once published the fallout from the story costs Leah her job and Noah.

At her lowest Leah runs into Emmy Grey. Leah had roomed with Emmy 8 years earlier while she worked an unpaid internship that was a requisite for her job. Even though they had lost contact Leah was thrilled to see an old friend. After too much vodka and desperate for change Leah agrees to leave Boston and move with Emmy to western Pennsylvania.

Leah’s new beginning is teaching writing to disinterested high school students and living in a rustic rental with a front entrance of sliding glass doors. Emmy’s job working evenings at a motel means the two friends usually pass each other coming and going. To complicate matters Leah has attracted the attention of one of the married high school coaches and receives unwanted emails and late night phone calls.

On her way out one morning Leah leaves a note to let Emmy know the rent is due. When it blows it under a shelf she finds other notes she’d left for Emmy and realizes she hasn’t seen Emmy for days. Emmy doesn’t have a cell phone and has never given Leah the name of the motel so there is no way to check on her.

On her way to the school Leah passes a roadblock at an area near the lake. Worried about Emmy she stops to investigate. It is not the car accident Leah feared but an injured woman, a stranger to Leah. Heading on to school Leah’s thankful she avoided the police and that the victim it is not Emmy.

Called to the office during her first period she finds her contact with the police was delayed not avoided. The prime suspect in the attack on the victim, Bethany Jarvis, is Leah’s unwanted admirer Coach Davis. Bethany Jarvis also bears a striking resemblance to Leah and the attack occurred less than a mile from Leah’s home putting her right in the middle of the investigation.

Although interviewed by more than one police officer Detective Kyle Donovan becomes Leah’s primary contact on the case and it is to him that she reports Emmy’s disappearance. As Kyle continues to investigate, Leah gets pulled deeper into the case primarily because Emmy doesn’t seem to exist.

Loyal to Emmy, Leah uses her journalism skills to try to find and prove to everyone that Emmy is Emmy. But as clues are uncovered and facts revealed, Leah has to reevaluate her friendship with Emmy. Then Emmy’s boyfriend is found with his throat cut in the car she drove. Since Emmy doesn’t seem to be real and parts of Leah’s past that she hoped to hide becomes known she goes from potential victim to suspect.

The deeper she goes Leah finds that most of what she thought she knew isn’t real. She must find the real Emmy and determine if she is a victim or the orchestrator of a clever and deadly plan. With its many twists and turns this novel is hard to put down. It pulls you from page to page to finally uncover the truth. The library has this title in both regular and large print editions.

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