Patricia Campbell is bored with her life. Sure, she’s busy. She’s constantly worried about her two kids, her son is obsessed with Nazis and her husband is always working. To top it all off, her mother-in-law with dementia is moving in with their family. But Patrica feels neglected. She’s a former nurse turned housewife who’s capable of so much more, but she doesn’t have a purpose beyond the daily needs of her family.
Her only outlet is a book club with her friends. It’s her turn to lead the discussion, but she hasn’t read the book. Can she bluff her way through it? It seems the other members aren’t that much into reading the “classics” either. So what do they do? True crime to the rescue! Soon they will all find themselves in a real-life true-crime beyond anything they have ever read about.
The book starts out light and somewhat humorous, but that fades away one night when Patricia comes across her elderly neighbor, Mrs. Savage, eating a raccoon. Mrs. Savage attacks Patricia and even bites off her earlobe! Patricia quickly heals up, but Mrs. Savage soon passes away.
Shortly afterward, the old woman’s great (or is it great-great?) nephew, James Harris, moves into her home. James is a handsome, mysterious man who can’t be out in the sunlight due to a medical condition, or so he says. He quickly befriends Patricia, and she helps him get settled into town. Patricia finds herself charmed by James and even helps him open a bank account. Her boring life suddenly has a bit of excitement in it!
But soon, things seem off for Patricia. Children from the other side of town are dying in ways that kids shouldn’t die. And where did James get that massive bag of money? Then there are the rats! Is she just reading too much true crime? Could James really be a Ted Bundy-type in disguise?
James eventually ingratiates himself with the book club members and even joins the club himself. He then befriends all of the women’s husbands and even helps fund a land development project. He’s a nice, successful guy and a pillar of their town…. right?
I have to say, I was immediately enthralled by this book. The easy tone at the beginning draws you in, and you find yourself liking the characters—both the good and bad ones. James Harris comes off as so charming that I could see how people were taken by him.
I used to read a lot of horror (that was my book club!), but kind of got burned out on it. The stories had nothing fresh to deliver and felt long-winded. I didn’t care about the characters, nothing was drawing me in, so I kind of gave up on the genre. I wasn’t sure if I would like this book. It was being compared to Steel Magnolias meets Dracula. (No, I don’t like Steel Magnolias!)
However, by chance and due to quarantine, I read the author’s other book Horrorstör, and I was so pleasantly surprised by it that I decided to give this book a go. The author, Grady Hendrix, can take the mundane and make it something sinister, whether it’s an all-American furniture superstore or bored housewives and a book club. I look forward to reading more of Mr. Hendrix’s books!