Thursday 6 April 2023

The Perfect Neighborhood by Liz Alterman #ThePerfectNeighborhood @LizAlterman @Legend_Times_ #BookReview


Think you know your neighbors? Think again.

When actress Allison Langley leaves her former rockstar husband in the middle of the night, her sudden departure becomes the talk of upmarket Oak Hill. 

But the relentless gossip comes to an abrupt halt when five-year-old Billy Barnes disappears on his walk home from kindergarten. 

Is there a predator lurking in the leafy suburb? 

Weeks later, three-year-old Amy-Pat Davies vanishes from her backyard. 

In addition to sharing a zip code, the missing children have another thing in common – their babysitter, Cassidy McLean, who has a secret of her own.

The Perfect Neighborhood by Liz Alterman was published in paperback in July 2022 by Legend Press. My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review. 

I was fascinated by the blurb on this novel. I'd prepared myself for a crime thriller, and that's certainly how the book is marketed.  Whilst there is most definitely a crime at the heart of this story, it's also a delicious slice of domestic noir, detailing the lives of the occupants of one street in American suburbia.

I read this whilst on holiday and had the luxury of being able to read straight through, only putting it down for a dip in the pool, or a sip of my beer. It's the perfect pool-side read. Engaging, and filled with character who are colourful and well portrayed, if a little obnoxious at times. 

This is so far away from my life. I come from a small rural town in the middle of England. Yes, I have neighbours, but honestly, I see them rarely and probably wouldn't have a clue if one of them left in the early hours of the morning. I may miss them in six months time, but it wouldn't be obvious to me. 

The residents in upmarket Oak Hill are not like that. Oh no. Tongues begin to wag almost as soon as actress Allison Langley closes the car door when she leave her rockstar husband Christopher in the middle of the night.  Every single theory as to way she has gone is discussed and debated at length.

And then, something even more dramatic happens. Five year old Billy Barnes vanishes on his way home from school. His mother blames herself, she knew Billy was too young to walk home alone. His babysitter Cassidy blames herself too. She was late getting to Billy's house and will never know if this made a difference. 

Billy has been missing for a few weeks when three year old Amy-Pat also disappears.  And hey, guess who is her babysitter?  Yes, Cassidy again. The tongues are wagging so much in the neighborhood now, Cassidy has to be prime suspect for this crime. 

Whilst the mystery of the children's disappearances is the central theme of this plot, for me it was the finely developed characters who stole the show. The inside look, the almost eavesdropping feeling of hearing what they said is fascinating. It can be a bit cringey at times as people really can be so very judgemental, and not afraid to speak out loud. 

This is a great read and I enjoyed it very much. I think I'll stay here in my quiet, boring little town though and leave places like Oak Hill to others! 

Liz Alterman's work can be found in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Parents, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and other publications. 

She is the author of a young adult novel, He'll Be Waiting, a memoir, Sad Sacked, and a domestic suspense novel, The Perfect Neighborhood. 

Liz lives in New Jersey with her husband and three sons. 

When she isn't writing, Liz spends most days reading, microwaving the same cup of coffee, and looking up synonyms.

Twitter @LizAlterman

Instagram @lizalterman

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