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Review: The Good Neighbor by A.J. Banner

Title: The Good Neighbor
Author: A.J. Banner
Year Published: 2015

Genre: Adult fiction (mystery)
Pages: 265
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2015 Google Reading map): USA (WA)

FTC Disclosure: I received an advanced copy from the author

Summary (from the back of the book): Shadow Cove, Washington, is the kind of town everyone dreams about--quaint streets, lush forests, good neighbors. That's what Sarah thinks as she settles into life with her new husband, Dr. Johnny McDonald. But all too soon she discovers an undercurrent of deception. And on October evening when Johnny is away, sudden tragedy destroys Sarah's happiness. Dazed and stricken with grief, she and Johnny begin to rebuild their shattered lives. As she picks up the pieces of her broken home, Sarah discovers a shocking secret that forces her to doubt everything she thought was true--about her neighbors, her friends, and even her marriage. With each stunning revelation, Sarah must ask herself, Can we ever really know the ones we love?

Review: I want to be honest and say up front that I went to high school with the author, A.J. Banner. But, I have read a number of her other books (and loved them) and feel like I can give an objective review.

I felt tense reading this book from the very start, sure that something awful was going to happen. And that's not because I read the back of the book first because I didn't. I often find that ruins a book for me so I read the back when I first choose the book then when I go to read it, I just jump in with no expectations. Even though on the surface things seem good on Sitka Lane--nice neighbors, a sweet cul-de-sac, good husband--the reader can tell something just isn't right. Banner sets a really good tone of foreboding and it continues on throughout the book. But I didn't see the answers coming until they hit me in the face (and that's a good thing).

I also really liked the main character/narrator, Sarah. She is caring, smart, and aware. But apparently not aware enough. I think most of us are like that: we tend to trust those around us, accept them for what they appear to be, and do the best we can. Poor Sarah, too trusting, too caring, and by the end not sure who is "real." The supporting characters are also good and not stereotypes at all.

I love the Pacific Northwest with it's rainfall (perhaps that's because I live in drought-stricken southern California), its quiet, its friendly people, and it's easy way of life. Banner captures this well in her descriptions of the environment, the people, and the pace of the book. Even though it's a thriller, it isn't rushed and aggressive, but has a feeling of people living in a small town. All in all, I really enjoyed reading this book!

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