Cate is a middle-aged woman who gave up her career ambitions to raise her daughter and son, who are now both teenagers. Her husband works long hours at his psychology practice, providing therapy to children with sociopathic tendencies, and this fans the flames of Cate’s paranoia, as she is constantly worried that he’s cheating on her.
But Cate has also been casting a suspicious eye towards Owen, their strange neighbor across the street who has just been suspended from his job as a teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct, which he strongly denies, and has become sucked into the dark world of incel—involuntary celibate—forums.
When a young girl named Saffyre goes missing on their street, Owen seems the obvious suspect, since it seems he was the last person to see her alive. But Saffyre is a former patient of Cate’s husband, and what neither of them know is that she’s been stalking them for quite some time, unwilling to sever their connection. And now she seems to have vanished in thin air...
This is a bit more of a slower-paced mystery with one toe dipped into literary fiction than it is a full-on, heart-pounding thriller. But there’s plenty of intrigue and a few fun twists, and in exchange for the slower pace, you get deeper character development and strong arcs. That’s a trade off I’ll take any day!! Lisa Jewell’s writing -- and understanding of human psychology --is top notch.
The book explores some interesting themes, like the difference between being anonymous vs. being invisible, and the different types of love, such as needing someone vs. a more ‘pure’ form that doesn’t require anything from the other.
This book also sent me down the disturbing rabbit-hole of incels, who are involuntarily celibate, heterosexual men who blame their lack of romantic success on women and society. This is a real thing. There are websites dedicated to it. This is fascinating to know, but also scary and disturbing and I’m never leaving the house again.
This is a great read for fans of mysteries & thrillers, or people who enjoy getting into the skin of flawed - and not always ‘likable’ - characters!