Book Review

Someone We Know

Someone We Know

  • Author: Shari Lapena
  • Genre: Mystery/Thriller
  • Publication Date: July 30, 2019
  • Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books

CONTENT WARNING: violence, blood, murder, gore, alcohol abuse, mention of abortion, infidelity

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Maybe you don’t know your neighbors as well as you thought you did…

“This is a very difficult letter to write. I hope you will not hate us too much … My son broke into your home recently while you were out.”

In a quiet, leafy suburb in upstate New York, a teenager has been sneaking into houses—and into the owners’ computers as well—learning their secrets, and maybe sharing some of them, too.

Who is he, and what might he have uncovered? After two anonymous letters are received, whispers start to circulate, and suspicion mounts. And when a woman down the street is found murdered, the tension reaches the breaking point. Who killed her? Who knows more than they’re telling? And how far will all these very nice people go to protect their own secrets?

In this neighborhood, it’s not just the husbands and wives who play games. Here, everyone in the family has something to hide…

You never really know what people are capable of.

My aunt recommended this book to my mother, who isn’t much of a reader. My mom sat down and absolutely devoured this book, then promptly insisted that I had to read it. I had no choice in the matter, since there’s usually no arguing with her. And within the first two chapters, I was hopelessly hooked on this book. The combination of the absorbing story and the short chapters made it impossible to put down, and I finished it in less than a day.

I’m a total sucker for stories that take place in idyllic-seeming towns, since I already know that it means that everyone has secrets. Obviously, the lure of the story is finding out who killed the woman—the crux of the story. But I was also drawn into finding out the secrets that the people in the town are keeping. And there were so damn many secrets!

Part of what made this such a chilling story is that this seems like Anywhere, USA. It’s just a regular town, where people know their neighbors, socialize frequently, host book clubs with people who live nearby, and have kids who are friends with each other. But behind the perfect-seeming facade, each family has their own issues. There are marital problems, children with serious behavioral issues, and the ever-present secrets. But it’s the shocking crime that starts to bring all these shadows into the light:

“She wonders if Robert Pierce is in there, behind the blinds. Suddenly she hates him, and Amanda, too, for coming into their quiet neighborhood and rocking it to the foundations. He probably killed his wife, she thinks bitterly, and they are all suffering for it.”

The thing that kept me reading is that all throughout the story, we’re given tiny bits of information that had me questioning who could have been behind the crime. So many people had motive, and the further I read, the more suspects appeared. I didn’t know which end was up, and when the guilty party was finally revealed, I was absolutely shocked. It was literally the very last person I had ever suspected. 

But it also brings to mind, no matter how well we know the people we live among, do we ever *really* know them? What really happens behind closed doors, even those only a few feet away? How much do you trust the people you think you know?

“What had been going on that night in the dark?”

The characters in the story are alternately likable and not, seemingly innocent and guilty. Just when I thought I was sure of who was guilty, new evidence appeared. Lapena did a great job of putting her readers into the shoes of some of the characters, especially regarding Olivia. The constant sense of fear, frustration, tension, and despair was palpable as the story went on, leaving me unable to stop reading. Fortunately, I didn’t have a lot going on today, so I was able to devote a large chunk of time to reading. I’d suggest that you start this when you’re free to read, because you aren’t going to want to put this book down once you start it. 

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 12

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