Monday, January 8, 2018

Book Review: Just Between Us

By Jami Deise

Things are not as they seem is the standard mystery plot. Today’s suspense authors have added a caveat to that description: People are not as they seem. Nothing is as it seems in suspense writer Rebecca Drake’s fourth novel, Just Between Us.

Despite its romantic-sounding title, it’s not romance that is central to the novel’s plot, but friendship. And technically, the title should be Just Among Us, as there are four friends and four (first person) points of view in the book. Heather, Julie, Alison, and Sarah become friends through their pre-school aged children. It’s a mostly superficial friendship until Alison spies bruises on Heather’s wrist. Then the women band together to try to protect Heather and encourage her to leave her wealthy surgeon husband. Things don’t exactly go as planned.

Just Between Us is an interesting combination of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies and Lois Duncan’s I Know What You Did Last Summer. While Drake doesn’t have the prose chops of Moriarty, the plot turns are roller-coaster worthy. And although I figured out a few of the twists, I envied Drake for coming up with them.

I did have two minor quibbles with the novel: One, the voices for the four characters are way too similar for first-person narration. Rather than distinguishing her characters through the uniqueness of their internal monologues, Drake uses job status and personal foibles. Except for Heather’s chapters, I had to keep reminding myself who was who. Two, the first few pages drag on for far too long, as Alison goes through paragraphs of “what if’s.” That’s a little troubling because many readers decide whether to continue with the book based on those pages, and I was a little tempted to put it down after the tenth or twentieth “what if.”

But I’m very glad I kept going, as the novel soon became a page-turner. Occasionally funny, sometimes unbelievable, Drake exposes the danger of becoming too friendly with people before getting to really know them.

Just Between Us was my first introduction to Drake. I’m impressed enough to look up and read her back list.

Thanks to St. Martin's Press for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Rebecca Drake:

1 comment:

Dianna said...

I love books about women's friendships. Added this to my list!