Ive been on a Liane Moriarty kick recently, and this is solidly middle of the pack. I enjoyed reading it – her books are nothing if not enjoyable – but this one felt a bit like a first draft.
I don’t want to give away the big secrets here – Moriarty does an amazing job with keeping her readers entertained with the how of a whodunit as much as the who and the why – but the actual twists are enjoyable to read even as it’s inevitable to figure out one or two. As I didn’t see a big one coming that was in retrospect obvious, I’ll keep it vague.
One of our protagonists refers to witnessing a traffic accident with a child that was clearly only written for narrative symmetry later in the book – she talks about it early on and then it’s essentially forgotten about, except when another child is similarly injured at the denouement. It sticks out as an unnecessary addition until you put two and two together.
The two main plot threads don’t weave together as seamlessly as in other Moriarty novels either – Tess’ story and the Cecelia/Rachel plot feel like two separate books with a setting and a few characters in common instead of a coherent whole.
The conclusion likewise feels a bit like a first time writer’s wrap up – it’s not so bad as “it was all a dream” but definitely works a touch too hard to put a bow on all the characters stories. We get to absolve everyone’s flaws because the big “secret” wasn’t actually the husband’s fault, and ah how strange fate is! When in actual fact a secret like the titular one doesn’t just go away when all the parties involved know, that’s something everyone has to live with now, and is elided over with omniscient “this is how it all could have been different if people had just made choice x.”
So, why did I enjoy reading this so damn much? Moriarty is like literary crack. I’ll be in line for the next book, dammit. These are too damn enjoyable and well crafted, even for all their flaws.