A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell 304 pages
"She’s your best friend.
She knows all your secrets.
That’s why she’s so dangerous."
The question is, which "she?" Is it Emily, who has disappeared and seems to be the best friend of Stephanie? Is it Stephanie, who has a few secrets of her own (and one of them a pretty nasty one)? And what about Emily's husband? What the real story on him?
This story begins with a simple favor. Emily asks her best friend, Stephanie, to pick up Emily's son Nicky after school. Stephanie's more than happy to do so, considering her own son, Miles, is friends with Nicky. Everything's great . . . until Emily doesn't come back. She doesn't answer texts or phone calls and Stephanie is sure something is terribly wrong. Desperate, Stephanie uses her blog to reach out to her readers for help and also reaches out to Emily's husband, Sean. When Sean and Stephanie receive the news that Emily's body has been found, the nightmare of her disappearance is over. Or is it? Nicky is sure he's seen his mother and now, Stephanie is starting to get suspicious.
And that's just the beginning, with a story that starts unraveling secrets upon secrets and dark plots.
This story has the feel of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, and has the same storytelling of shifting perspectives between characters. I felt this was more like Gone Girl, with the slowly building sense of unease and then disbelief as the story continues and you learn more about the characters and their motivations. I initially couldn't believe how naive (and actually, irritating) Stephanie was, although she redeems herself later in the story. What I really liked was how as things start to unfold, the characters and their motivations become darker and darker. It's like a bunch of nasty matroyshka dolls, where you open one and it's got something icky inside, so you open the next one, and it's worse. The steadily increasing pace kept me turning the pages, and I enjoyed the story up until the very end.