Desert Isle Keeper
The Other Mrs. Miller
The Other Mrs. Miller is Allison Dickson’s debut novel, and it’s one of those books that constantly challenges the reader’s perception of what is real. On the surface, it’s just one more in a long line of books about couples keeping secrets from one another, but as the story progresses and the characters begin to give up some of those secrets, we’re is treated to a deeper, darker story than originally expected.
Phoebe Miller is in a rut, and she honestly couldn’t tell you how long she’s been there. She feels as if her life has no meaning, as if everything she does is by rote. When we first meet her, her days consist of little more than drinking expensive wine, watching trashy reality shows, and obsessing about the rusty blue car that has shown up outside her house far too often. She’s expressed her concern about the car’s mysterious presence to her husband, but he chalks it up to nothing more than Phoebe’s overactive imagination. After all, what possible reason could the car’s owner have for spying on his wife?
Then a new family moves in across the street, and Phoebe’s grip on reality becomes ever more tenuous. Something about the doctor, his wife, and their teenaged son feels off to her, and she’s determined to figure out what they’re hiding. She goes about uncovering their secrets in some pretty unorthodox ways, many of which I wouldn’t call moral.
As is usually the case with thrillers, it’s hard for me to say more about the plot without spoiling things, but trust me when I say that this book is unlike most of the other novels of domestic suspense I’ve picked up over the past several years. The characters exist in a morally gray area that makes them feel incredibly real, but also makes it tricky to understand all of their motivations. There were several times I thought I’d figured out a line a certain character might not cross, but I was always wrong. These people did not act in ways I expected, and that’s part of what I loved about the story.
In between the chapters told from Phoebe’s point of view are sections called interludes. The reader has no idea who is speaking to us during these sections, but it’s clear their intentions aren’t particularly good. They don’t reveal very much about their plans, but what they do tell us made my skin crawl on more than a few occasions.
There’s an enormous twist about halfway through the book that I in no way saw coming. The author sprinkles a few clues here and there, but I didn’t interpret them correctly and was caught completely off guard. Of course, once I saw where the story was going, things that had initially puzzled me finally made sense.
There are a couple of scenes in the book that turned my stomach. It’s not that they’re overly violent, but Ms. Dickson uses very descriptive language to bring her story to life, and certain elements of the plot are on the disturbing side. Even so, I flew through the book, hating to put it down until I learned how things would turn out for the characters.
If you love thrillers but are looking for something a little out of the ordinary, The Other Mrs. Miller should fit the bill nicely. It delivered everything I wanted from a twisty mystery and then some, making it a fantastic summer read whether you’re hanging out at home or spending time away with friends or family.