The Good Neighbor
Although this novel is not very long at 204 pages, it is packed with mystery and suspense. Sarah McDonald, a writer, and her husband, Johnny, a doctor, live comfortably in Shadow Cove, Washington. They want for nothing and are blessed with wonderful neighbors and friends. One day their idyllic lives change forever when a house fire next door claims the lives of their neighbors and good friends. Sarah somehow manages to save the life of their young child; however, in the process the McDonald’s home is consumed by the conflagration. This tragedy is only the beginning of a dark journey for Sarah.
The night of the fire, Sarah’s husband was out of town. Calls to him from Sarah went unanswered, raising questions about his whereabouts. Soon, Sarah begins to discover clues about Johnny’s possible infidelity. The once close, loving couple begins to drift apart. What once seemed an unbreakable bond becomes weaker by the day.
Questions about the fire itself begin to surface, and arson is suspected. Moreover, the question becomes one of whether the neighbor’s house was really the intended target. Sarah finds some incriminating evidence in the rubble of their house that fuels her growing unease with Johnny’s behavior. And although she is aware of her husband’s many relationships before their marriage, she becomes uncertain as to whether or not he has been faithful to her.
Both the arson and the possible affairs make this an interesting and thoughtful read. Sarah is torn between finding the cause of the fire and the answer to the many questions she has concerning her husband. Along the way, the author manages to insert a fair amount of mystery and suspense—enough to ensure the reader feels compelled to turn the next page.
The writing is good and the characters engaging and fully developed. A. J. Banner does a nice job of describing the beautiful state of Washington with its lush green forests and pristine bodies of water. She captures the sights, smells, and sounds of the wooded areas masterfully. And while she leads the readers through some winding forest trails in the story, the final destination is a total surprise. Well done.