This was probably my most anticipated book of 2021. Moriarty manages to deliver effortlessly every time. While some of her books I didn’t like as much as others, there hasn’t been one I didn’t enjoy at least on some level. I especially like the way she builds complex characters that are both relatable and intriguing. Thankfully, this book did not disappoint on that level.
To some, Stan and Joy Delaney seem the perfect couple. Undeniable chemistry, an illustrious professional partnership in tennis that both supports and accentuates their personal relationship, and four strong and independent children who’ve grown up to be adults who make them proud. But when Joy Delaney goes missing and all signs point to Stan, fractures begin to form in the Delaney family. Two of the children believe their father could never do something so monstrous, but two believe there’s a dark side of their father at work that everyone has always ignored. As more time passes with no sign of Joy, secrets and old animosities begin to bubble to the surface. Sure to form, Moriarty keeps readers guessing until the very end.
This book is told in alternating timelines. We get the present perspectives of the four Delaney children – Logan, Amy, Troy and Brooke – as well as the flashback perspective of Joy. Joy’s perspective is an important one. As a matter of fact, I oddly found her to be the most relatable character. While I don’t exist in the same sphere as Joy, for I’m not in my 70’s looking back on 50 years of marriage, I still can connect with that part of her that realizes she gave up a lot of her own personal accomplishments and dreams to build something with another person. There are a lot of women who sacrificed their own personal ambitions for the prospect of a successful family. It’s only natural to go through a period of mourning when you realize that what you’ve lost is no longer within reach. Seeing Joy through this deeply personal lens brings us closer to her, and it makes her matter to us. This, in turn, increases the suspense as we forge ahead to find out what really happened to her.
Along the way, Moriarty throws so much at us! The plot thickens so much it gets difficult to wade through, though in a good way that makes your head spin and makes you want to keep reading. And yet again, Moriarty delivers us quirky side characters who add a lot of authenticity and even some humor. They always serve as catalysts for more in-depth character development for any one of the main characters. There are actually a total of 7 extremely pivotal characters in this novel, and that’s a pretty difficult thing to successfully navigate without neglecting someone. But Moriarty proves she’s a master at character development, because all 7 feel solid and authentic. And no, I didn’t necessarily like them all, but I don’t like everyone I know in real life either. Everything is as it should be. A perfect blend of imperfections, meticulously crafted and leaving a wonderful feeling after you’ve closed the last page. 4 1/2 stars
Published Sept 14, 2021 by Henry Hold and Co. ISBN 1250220254. 467 pages.