I wanted to make sure I got some mystery/suspense novels in for the fall, and I thought that these two would be some good examples! I had heard a lot of good recommendations for both and thought I’d start with the latest novel first.

Sad news guys- Truly Madly Guilty was another DNF for me. It was just sooo boring. I got about a third of the way through the audiobook, but I was so over the frenemy relationship between Erica and Clementine, as well as the shroud of mystery around the barbecue. I just want to know what happened at the dang barbecue! I know that suspense novels are supposed to keep you in suspense, but this book seemed overly dramatic and the tension between the characters wasn’t very convincing to me. I liked the setting and the audio narrator (Caroline Lee) does a convincing Australian accent so it was pleasant to listen to, but I found myself struggling to like anything else. This, for me, makes it a DNF’er. Life is too short to listen to 17 hours of audio if you aren’t interested in the first 6 hours, right?!

So, I gave Moriarty a second chance and jumped into Big Little Lies. I also read this on audiobook and this time around, I knew a little bit about what I was getting into, because I saw the first Hulu season on DVD (on loan from my library) and thought it was really good. The book, as usual, is even better!

In the book, we’re introduced to three women and their families- Madeline Mackenzie, Celeste Wright, and Jane Chapman.

Madeline is a feisty mother and wife who works part time and cares for her three children- Chloe, Fred, and Abigale- and husband Ed. Her ex-husband Nathan and his perfectly nice yogi wife, Bonnie, seem to be the bane of her existence, who have a child the same age as Chloe, and who will be in the same class. Abigale has also taken a shine to Bonnie, and Madeline can’t understand how Abigale could choose to spend so much time with the man who left her and Abigale. On the way to the kindergarten orientation, Madeline gets hurt and Jane comes to her aid.

Jane is a single mom and new to town. Her son Ziggy is just starting school, and she’s doing what she can to make sure he’ll fit in and do well. Madeline takes Jane under her wing, relaying the politics of the school and local community (a battle of career mom vs. stay at home moms), and introducing her to her best friend, Celeste.

Celeste is a mother of twin boys, Josh and Max, and a retired lawyer, as well as a wife to Perry. They’re a beautiful family and live in luxury, but behind closed doors, Celeste and Perry don’t have the picturesque relationship they seem to. Harboring the dark secret of their abusive relationship, Celeste has decided that she needs to find a way to get out of the twisted version of marriage by herself.

Leading the blonde-bob pack of career moms is Renata Klein. Renata’s daughter Ammabella is also starting her first day of school with Madeline’s, Jane’s, and Celeste’s children. At the end of the orientation, Ammabella accuses Ziggy of choking her, and immediately the buzz starts and people start taking sides. Madeline and Celeste both rally in Jane’s corner, and as the three of them grow closer and Jane’s past is revealed, these women have to figure out the truth to clear little Ziggy’s name.

Moriarty had me hooked on this book. From the beginning, I loved her main characters who each had their own pasts and baggage to carry. I loved hearing their stories unfold, and their witnessing their friendship grow. I also liked the story line as it arched toward the night of the incident. In this case, the pacing was excellent, and the additional commentary from the locals was both humorous and intriguing. This added to the suspense without any redundancy, and there were new elements periodically throughout the gripped the reader. The ending was full of suspense, shock, and drama- it blew me away. Due to the nature of it’s content, I’d give it a PG13 audience, but I’d certainly recommend the read!