The Hampstead neighborhood has been besieged by an increasing number of sexual assaults happening even in broad daylight. One of the families that lives near the assaults is the Fours family. The father, Roan, is a child psychologist; the wife and mother, Cate, is a physiotherapist; and they have a daughter and a son.
Their across-the-street neighbor, Owen, is a thirty-year-old virgin who lives with his aunt. After being accused of inappropriate behavior with is students, he finds his way to the INCEL community online.
And then there’s Saffyre – the young woman of color at the center of this story.
Saffyre is missing, and she was last seen in Hampstead. Who is responsible? Her former psychologist? His son? Their neighbor? Or someone from her past?
I thought it was very interesting, the way this novel used the INCEL community as a plot device. For those who might be worried that this is all about that very scary neck of the woods, Owen comes to his senses fairly quickly and places the onus of his unwanted celibacy on himself instead of all women. But that doesn’t necessarily help him in the criminal investigation.
I was worried the INCEL stuff would be the centerpiece of the narrative, but it turns out it’s kind of a red herring. Not all terrible people are INCELs. Sometimes they seem very normal.
At its core, this novel is about the far-reaching consequences of hating, abusing, mistreating, and underestimating women.