Review: Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser (@KristinKC1)
NOT THAT I COULD TELL
“Full of slow-burning intrigue, Strawser’s second novel will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies and Jennifer Kitses’ Small Hours.” —Booklist
*Book of the Month Club Selection
An innocent night of fun takes a shocking turn in Not That I Could Tell, the next page-turner from Jessica Strawser, author of Almost Missed You.
When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal.
By Monday morning, one of them is gone.
Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. Kristin was a sociable twin mom, college administrator, and doctor’s wife who didn’t seem all that bothered by her impending divorce—and the investigation turns up more questions than answers, with her husband, Paul, at the center. For her closest neighbor, Clara, the incident triggers memories she thought she’d put behind her—and when she’s unable to extract herself from the widening circle of scrutiny, her own suspicions quickly grow. But the neighborhood’s newest addition, Izzy, is determined not to jump to any conclusions—especially since she’s dealing with a crisis of her own.
As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doors—and to ask how well anyone reallyknows anyone else.
This book had one hell of an amazing kick off, presenting an atmospheric tone that was both enticing and mysterious: Women in a small neighborhood coming together one fateful night to let loose around a backyard fire pit—wine glasses and baby monitors in hand.
Although these women tend to exude an I-have-my-shit-together appearance by day, their composed exteriors begin to fall away with the night, revealing dark secrets and hidden insecurities—all exposed…fire pit-side.
Quite a freeing night, but the next morning they find themselves greeted by massive hangovers, along with the frightening news that one of these women has suddenly disappeared.
“It’s no great accomplishment to get someone to believe a lie. It’s not that hard, really. Look at me: a doctor’s wife, working mom, good neighbor. You’ve already summed me up, haven’t you? You’re already filling in the blanks…But whatever you’re writing there, it’s not the truth.”
This explosively alluring opening sparked a high level of excitement and intrigue that held tight for a while, but then began to simmer, taking a slow but steady decline all the way to a somewhat lackluster finish.
There were parts I loved and found incredibly interesting, and then others that made the story feel like it was coasting in the mundane.
I didn’t particularly care for the ending, and not because of what happened, but more of how it happened. It sort of played out like an ending to a movie: dramatized and predictable. I couldn’t help but feel there was more suggested than was ultimately delivered.
I do have to gush over this author’s writing style, which was superb and remained solid throughout. I found myself rereading certain parts, so drawn in by the wording alone.
The characters were flawlessly brought to life, each one unique from the next and harboring her own real-life demons. I think readers will most certainly enjoy this contrasting cast of characters.
Overall, an enjoyable read, and I do intend to check out other works by this author!