It's getting colder every day, winter is really here (unless you live in some static wonderland like California) and you're starting to think about the hectic holiday season. If you are looking to pull yourself out of that stressful mindset and sit down for a bit of fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat entertainment, look no further!
Scott is visiting the Hamptons, which sounds fun until you find out it's wintertime and all the houses are vacant. He and his wife Elise are looking after her terminally ill father, Victor, as he struggles through what (they hope) are the last stages of cancer.
He is a sort of cancer on their lives himself as he is a horribly mean man and Elise and Scott basically only aspire to inherit his sizable fortune once he is gone.
All the relationships in the book are a bit unstable. Scott hates Victor, who was abusive to Elise. Scott doesn't quite understand why Elise continues to support her father despite his behavior. Scott also isn't really sure how their marriage is holding up. . . Both of their jobs are on the rocks as well. Everything is a bit of a hot mess.
There isn't a whole lot to do. He notices that the house next door has this system of lights on a timer that go on and off at the same time every night and it irks him.
He wants to go investigate, so he does. It turns out that the front door is open, so he goes inside. . .
The secrets in the house next door get stirred up and start to circle closer and closer to home. They are secrets that were probably better off left alone in the dark.
While the setup is definitely intriguing, the book lags with the characterization, especially with Scott, who is the narrator. I never really understood the motivation behind many of his actions. Potentially this is because he was never fully fleshed out as a person for me.
Elise, on the other hand, is much more interesting. Possibly this is because we aren't inside her head, hearing her every thought. I wasn't sure where she was coming from and she really surprised me again and again.
Looking back at the book as a whole, it seemed like there should have been some sort of event that made Scott so curious about the house, some inciting incident, but there isn't. In retrospect, is just too perfect a setup, which is a bit bothersome.
Who is the winter girl, you may ask? Well, I can't tell you that, but I will say, there is a bloody mattress at the house next door, a key taped under Victor's desk, and not everyone is telling the whole truth about who they are. Sufficiently intrigued?
You'll have to find out the rest on your own.
Marinovich definitely doesn't hold back, this book gets dark and twisted in a real way. It isn't grotesque or overly salacious with details, but it did go to some cobwebby corners that I hadn't expected. He's got a dark mind, that's for sure, and there's nothing wrong with that!
There is an abundance of twists—it really picks up speed towards the end—and that's probably the main reason I stayed absorbed in it. I didn't guess the ending until I was right on top of it even though there were a few moments throughout that should have been fairly good indicators of what was to come. So job well done on that!
This is a quick, seat-of-your-pants sort of thriller. I read it in one sitting and enjoyed all the twists and turns, but it didn't really stand out from the crowd in an extraordinary way.
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Find out more about the publisher, Vintage (Penguin Random House)
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Associate editor, amateur photdographer, bibliophile, and occasional sleuth.