2017 Book 91: A SIMPLE FAVOR by Darcey Bell

A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell
ISBN: 9780062497772 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062666338 (paperback)
ISBN: 9780062497796 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062658234 (audiobook)
ASIN: B01ER6LIZI (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Harper 
Publication Date: March 21, 2017

She’s your best friend.

She knows all your secrets.

That’s why she’s so dangerous.

A single mother’s life is turned upside down when her best friend vanishes in this chilling debut thriller in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train

It starts with a simple favor—an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another. When her best friend, Emily, asks Stephanie to pick up her son Nicky after school, she happily says yes. Nicky and her son, Miles, are classmates and best friends, and the five-year-olds love being together—just like she and Emily. A widow and stay-at-home mommy blogger living in woodsy suburban Connecticut, Stephanie was lonely until she met Emily, a sophisticated PR executive whose job in Manhattan demands so much of her time. 

But Emily doesn’t come back. She doesn’t answer calls or return texts. Stephanie knows something is terribly wrong—Emily would never leave Nicky, no matter what the police say. Terrified, she reaches out to her blog readers for help. She also reaches out to Emily’s husband, the handsome, reticent Sean, offering emotional support. It’s the least she can do for her best friend. Then, she and Sean receive shocking news. Emily is dead. The nightmare of her disappearance is over.

Or is it? Because soon, Stephanie will begin to see that nothing—not friendship, love, or even an ordinary favor—is as simple as it seems. 

A Simple Favor is a remarkable tale of psychological suspense—a clever and twisting free-fall of a ride filled with betrayals and reversals, twists and turns, secrets and revelations, love and loyalty, murder and revenge. Darcey Bell masterfully ratchets up the tension in a taut, unsettling, and completely absorbing story that holds you in its grip until the final page.

Stephanie is a stay-at-home, mommy blogger, and widow. She’s become good friends with Emily Nelson, a public relations executive for a fashion house. Stephanie and Emily’s sons, Miles and Nicky, are best friends and attend the local school. Stephanie and Emily spend hours together with their sons and because Stephanie is usually at home, Emily doesn’t think twice about asking her to pick up her son from school if she’s running late. But Emily is more than running late, she’s disappeared. Stephanie was sure that Emily would pick-up Nicky later that evening, but it’s been days and she’s not responding to calls. Frantic, Stephanie reaches out to Emily’s job and even her husband to find out more information. When Emily’s husband, Sean, returns from an overseas trip and Emily hasn’t returned, even he begins to get a little concerned. As Stephanie and Sean sit and wonder what has happened to Emily, they work together to care for their sons. Weeks go by and then a body is found and it’s Emily. After grieving the death of her friend, Stephanie and Sean seem to get closer and their two separate families become one melded family. Is this a second chance to grab happiness for Stephanie and Sean or is it something much worse? 

A Simple Favor begins with the premise that stay-at-home-mom Stephanie will take care of her friend’s son for a few hours. Those few hours turn into days, weeks, and then months while the friend is missing and then declared dead. The story is initially told by Stephanie via her blog posts about her missing friend along with her recollections of her relationship with Emily, as well as her past family life. Just when the reader thinks are back to normal, things begin to go awry (great word don’t you think and no I won’t tell you what goes awry…read the book!). Stephanie reveals parts of herself in her recollections that present a darker side than we could ever possibly imagine. Just when we are getting acclimated to Stephanie’s darker side, we get to hear things from Emily’s perspective (trust me, there’s dark and there’s DARK). The simple favor that Stephanie provides is far from simple and changes the lives of more than one of the primary characters. One of the themes in A Simple Favor is that everyone has secrets and a dark side, and that holds true for Stephanie, Emily, and Sean. All three are not what they appear to be and the secrets they have aren’t ones they’d want revealed to anyone. These characters might appear as the nice, naive stay-at-home mom, the highly successful working mom, and the workaholic dad, but they are so much more than that. I don’t know what it says about me as a reader, but I enjoy dark, twisted stories and A Simple Favor is one that held me in its grips from beginning to end. Just when you think you know where the story is going, Ms. Bell provides a nice little twist to shake things up (and there are quite a few twists in this story). A Simple Favor is anything but predictable and none of the major characters are very likable once you get to know them. If you enjoy reading psychological thrillers or stories with twisted characters and storylines, then you’ll definitely want to read A Simple Favor. If you enjoy reading good writing and want something a little bit different to read, again A Simple Favor might be just the story for you. This is the first book by Ms. Bell and I look forward to reading more from her in the future. Just in case you couldn’t tell, I thoroughly enjoyed reading A Simple Favor

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Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss for review purposes. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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