Lisa Gardner isn’t someone I come across often in my travels through the world of crime fiction, but perhaps that will change after reading The Neighbour, which really was an excellent book.
Sandra and Jason are married with a four-year-old child and a cat. They live in uber-normal suburbia and seem to lead a balanced, uneventful life. But is it too normal? Jason’s world starts to unravel when Sandra suddenly goes missing. Sandra’s world starts to unravel when she finds a suspicious image on Jason’s computer. Their neighbour Aidan’s world starts to unravel when Sandra disappears, and as a previously-convicted sex offender, the community turns against him. Ethan, a reclusive geek at the school where Sandra is a teacher, is sure he can save the day. His uncle Wayne is a forensic computer genius who works with the police, and Ethan is a little Wayne in the making. He starts his own investigation alongside that of the police, who are trying their hardest not to allow the whole situation to turn into more of a media circus than it is. Then, all of a sudden, Sandra’s estranged father arrives. A respected judge, he tries to obtain custody of four-year-old Clarissa; but Sandra made Jason swear that he’d kill the man before allowing him to take her daughter. What is everyone to do?
The strands of this story are woven together in such a complex way that I was unsure whether they’d all be able to be drawn back together by the end of the book. But they are, and in a fantastic finale, the story reaches its conclusion. Recommended.