et’s get this right out in the open. This is a protagonist you aren’t going to like at all.
Rachel is a pathetic drunk. Her drinking and violent tendencies cost her a marriage. Now abiding in an apartment from an over-enabling friend, she rides in to London every day, not to work but to pretend to work. Because she drank at a work lunch, lost control and got the sack.
One of Rachel’s little “games” is when the train stops every day at the same signal, she looks at the back of one of the suburban houses (apparently a few doors down from her old abode, where her ex still lives with the woman that supplanted her). The woman who sits on the patio drinking coffee is so serine. Her husband so caring. Rachel actually names them, gives them backstories, almost loves them. Their lives follow what hers should have been, sipping coffee in the sunlight as the train rattles past, her loving husband kissing her neck before heading off to his successful work.
But then one day Rachel is rocked to see this woman, so complete in her own life, kissing another man on the back porch. And shortly afterwards, she comes up missing.
Fuelled by her besotted fantasies, Rachel is drawn in – like Charlie Chan and Miss Marple – to try to solve the case (even though she is unreliable, often drinking until blacking out, unable to hold a course of action, a total disaster of a detective). But her actions begin to unravel of quiet calm of her former street, revealing the lying and cheating of its underbelly. And in the end, it all becomes clear. Horrifically clear.
The story is told from three women involved (including the one who was murdered) and across different times, so it pays to watch the date in the chapter headings. Eventually we are able to piece together what happened and what the fallout is. Well-told and interesting, the author was bold in picking a character so depressingly a failure that my sister gave the book up at midpoint. Still, kudos for going after such a tough-to-carry heroine. I stuck with Rachel through to the end. If I had one problem with the book, it’s that the women and men in the story seem cast from the same molds (the women unfaithful, weak and indecisive, the men quick-tempered and violence-prone). But yes, overall it as a good read, an interesting mystery with a red herring or two to keep the reader guessing.
But if you do take my recommendation, know that your protagonist is no “Dick Champion”. It’s going to be raw.