Stephanie and Emily are friends, as are their sons. And it's not unusual for Emily to occasionally ask Stephanie to pick up her son after school on the rare day when his after school nanny isn't available. After all, the boys are friends and play dates are good for all of them. So there's nothing unusual about Emily asking Stephanie to do the same this time. Until Emily fails to pick her son up. One night, two... Stephanie starts to wonder if she misunderstood the request. But when Emily's husband returns from a trip overseas, it becomes clear nothing about this is normal.
I find frequently that without planning or knowing it's a possibility I end up reading things back to back that share themes or elements. Not obvious ones, I mean. For example, I might be in the mood for dark crime fiction or unreliable narrators and read a few of those back to back; that's not what I mean. What I mean is the unexpected appearance of the same element that I didn't like in yesterday's book rearing it's head in today's book. Is incest a trendy subject all of the sudden? If so, it really shouldn't be.
Sorry I had to get that out of my system, it had been nagging at me. I will do my very best now to review A Simple Favor without spoilers.
We begin with Stephanie. Her blog to be exact. She's worried and becoming frantic because her best friend has apparently gone missing. And that's the only explanation she has for the fact that a simple favor - picking up Emily's son, Nicky, from school and letting him play with her own son, Miles, for the afternoon - has turned into an overnight sleepover. And another overnight. And another.
It turns out Stephanie may have misunderstood. She reaches out to Emily's husband, who's out of town for business, and is told Emily will be gone for a few days. But, as mentioned above, when Sean returns and Emily is still gone it becomes clear to both of them that this wasn't the planned trip he thought it was.
The police become involved.
The narration shifts, giving readers a chance to see bits of the story from Emily's and Sean's perspectives in addition to Stephanie's. And secrets are revealed.
I liked the way Bell played with persona - the pieces of the characters that are kept personal and the pieces that are doled out to those around them, the edited for public consumption parts if you will. And of course it makes for unreliable narrators and multiple twists in the story.
A Simple Favor has earned quiet a bit of comparisons to some of the more popular unreliable narrator/domestic thriller/psychological suspense tales to be released of late. The comparisons are pretty unavoidable, all things considered, and frankly to even mention them is a bit spoilery. But which I mean A Simple Favor doesn't necessarily stand out as original or unique in the growing trend.
That's not to say that I didn't like A Simple Favor. It was a decent read - good entertainment for an evening at home alone while hubs was teaching. Had it come first, it would have packed a bit more punch. But it didn't. If you're a fan of the trend (as am I) and are looking for more in that same vein, A Simple Favor is a great one to try. If you're looking for something that'll knock your socks off (which I was), this one likely won't do it for you.
To see more stops on the tour be sure to check out the official TLC tour page here. And for more on Darcey Bell and her work you can follow her on Twitter.
Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble