Happy publication day to Diana Wilkinson for 4 Riverside Close, a slow-burner that builds in tension, unease and discomfort right from the start – the start being a rather gruesome murder.
Riverside Close is a small, intimate enclave of just 6 exclusive homes. Susan and Roger Harper together with the two children, are well established here, as are the elderly Olive and Bob Thompson. Olive is the resident busy body, spending most of her time sitting at her window watching the comings and goings of the Close and writing them down meticulously in her little black book. Newcomers Alexis and Adam Morley are just settling into their new home in the Close, and Number 4 is still up for sale, with realtor Mr Herriot desperate to make the sale and get it off his hands.
But as we know, under what appears to be an appearance of peaceful, dignified neighborliness, there usually lurks something untoward. This has something of a Desperate Housewives feel about it. Through the letterboxes of the homes in Riverside Close come leaflets advertising a club called ‘Join Me’: a seemingly harmless ‘friendship’ club offering people the opportunity to meet up with others who are interested in similar social pursuits such as fine dining, outings to places like the zoo, or a trip on the Thames, for example. Little do they know that ‘Join Me’ is far from harmless. It’s been set up by Caroline and Jason Swinton to swindle money from unsuspecting lonely individuals.
Susan Harper is bored and lonely and it becomes easy for Caroline Swinton to inveigle her way into her life and become her friend. At around the same time, she decides to take advantage of what ‘Join Me’ has to offer and she meets the charming and handsome Vince. Meanwhile, Alexis has finally had enough of her cheating husband Adam, and decides to take matters into her own hands, pursuing her long-held dream of becoming a private detective. But she too thinks that having some harmless fun through ‘Join Me’ might not be a bad idea. And Olive sits patiently watching them all through her front window. It doesn’t take long before all of their lives become intricately intertwined, anxiety levels are heightened, and the suspicion and deception lead to murder.
The author has created an intense cast of characters, most of whom are not particularly likable and for some reason, it took me quite some time to figure out who was who and who belonged to who. Once I’d figured everyone out though, I really got into the story and couldn’t put it down. The plot twists and turns, and as the threads that connect everyone start to draw them all closer and closer together, I literally starting becoming a bit breathless, swiping at those pages faster and faster!
This is a 4-star read that I’d really recommend. It’s edge-of-your-seat reading by the time you get to the end!