Title: The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: 381 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by the Author
Critically acclaimed author of The Mourning Hours and The Fragile World, Paula Treick DeBoard returns with a tale of dark secrets, shocking lies and a dangerous obsession that will change one neighborhood forever
Liz McGinnis never imagined herself living in a luxurious gated community like The Palms. Ever since she and her family moved in, she’s felt like an outsider amongst the Stepford-like wives and their obnoxiously spoiled children. Still, she’s determined to make it work—if not for herself, then for her husband, Phil, who landed them this lavish home in the first place, and for her daughter, Danielle, who’s about to enter high school.
Yet underneath the glossy veneer of The Palms, life is far from idyllic. In a place where reputation is everything, Liz soon discovers that even the friendliest residents can’t be trusted. So when the gorgeous girl next door befriends Danielle, Liz can’t help but find sophisticated Kelsey’s interest in her shy and slightly nerdy daughter a bit suspicious.
But while Kelsey quickly becomes a fixture in the McGinnis home, Liz’s relationships with both Danielle and Phil grow strained. Now even her own family seems to be hiding things, and it’s not long before their dream of living the high life quickly spirals out of control…
The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard is a compelling and thought-provoking novel that is suspenseful and slightly disturbing.
Liz and Phil McGinnis and their fourteen year old daughter Danielle have just relocated to The Palms, an affluent, exclusive and tight-knit subdivision. Phil is the newly hired community relations specialist for the neighborhood while Liz is a counselor at a nearby high school. Although they feel like they are living in paradise due to the many amenities and lavish surroundings, Liz is slightly intimidated by her wealthy neighbors and she is plagued by insecurities when dealing with the other families. Hoping to ease her daughter’s transition to the new neighborhood and her new school, Liz eagerly accepts Sonia Jorgesen’s offer to introduce her daughter Kelsey to Danielle. The two girls soon become tight friends, but it quickly becomes apparent that Kelsey is deeply troubled and after Liz makes a disconcerting discovery, her once happy family becomes to fall apart.
Liz is uncomfortable and feels out of place in their new neighborhood. Their sumptuous and expansive home is part of Phil’s salary package and she is somewhat astonished by her neighbors’ extravagant lifestyles. Feeling like she is out of her league, she tries to keep to herself as much as possible and to some extent, she manages to remain under the radar. At first happy that Danielle and Kelsey have become fast friends, Liz is not exactly thrilled with some of the changes in her daughter nor does she like having Kelsey under foot all the time. Her disenchantment in the situation grows when Danielle is caught in a lie and Liz begins to have doubts that she can trust her daughter. At the same time, Liz suspects that something is going on with Phil and their marriage grows strained as circumstantial evidence seems to support her suspicions.
Phil is pretty laidback and easygoing and he is a good fit for his new job. He is not exactly happy to have Kelsey at their house day in and day out especially since she has developed a disconcerting habit of dropping by his office as well. He makes a concerted efforts to put an end to her flirtatious behavior but these attempts usually backfire. By the time Phil realizes the depth of Kelsey’s obsession with him, he fears it is too late to go to Liz with his concerns. As his problems with Kelsey worsen, Phil desperately searches for options to get himself out of the untenable situation before he loses everything he holds dear.
Kelsey is an extremely disturbed young woman whose behavior quickly grows out of control. She is extremely devious and manipulative as she insinuates herself into the McGinnis’s life. When her schemes fail, she resorts to rumors and lies to try to achieve her goals. Kelsey is quick to retaliate when things do not go her way and her destructive behavior soon begins to escalate. Her parents are frequently away on business and despite an earlier incident, they are completely blind to their daughter’s faults.
With the chapters alternating between Liz and Phil’s points of view, The Drowning Girls by Paula Treick DeBoard is a darkly captivating novel of obsession. Weaving back and forth in time, this spellbinding mystery is fascinating yet sometimes unsettling as it thunders to a conclusion that is utterly shocking. An absolutely riveting novel that I highly recommend to fans of the genre.