What She Doesn't Know
Lovers of psychological thrillers with big, shocking twists won’t want to miss What She Doesn’t Know, the latest novel from author Andrew E. Kaufman. It’s a dark tale of one woman’s search for the truth where nothing and no one is as it seems.
Riley Harper is ready for a fresh start. When our story opens, she’s finally being released from the psychiatric hospital where she’s been a patient for a number of years. Her daughter was killed under extremely suspicious circumstances, and for years, Riley has claimed to remember nothing about that day. Unhappily for her, no one, especially not the local police, believed her, but now, Riley has been set free, and she’s ready to do whatever it takes to clear her name.
Unfortunately, life outside the hospital is far more complicated than Riley expected it to be. Her daughter’s murder was all over the news, so Riley is recognized by countless people, and they aren’t happy to see her. No one wants to hire a suspected child-killer, so she’s forced to rely on the generosity of her younger sister in order to pay the rent on the rundown apartment she was able to find. Plus, she’s almost positive someone is watching her, and she’s pretty sure their motives are far from benevolent.
One afternoon, Riley catches sight of the beautiful, stylish young woman who lives in a nearby apartment building and is immediately captivated by what she imagines is her neighbor’s seemingly perfect life. What must it be like to drive a fancy car, own all the pretty clothes anyone could possibly want, and basically lead a charmed life? Riley doesn’t know, but she’s determined to find out, because there’s something about the woman who calls herself Samantha Light that seems familiar.
Soon, Riley is swept up in a game of cat and mouse she’s not sure she can win. It’s obvious someone has it in for her, but who are they and what do they know about the day that irrevocably changed her life? She wants desperately to uncover the truth, but she might end up dead before she gets that far.
When I first started reading, I was confused by some of Riley’s actions. There were times I wasn’t sure I could trust her perceptions of events. Her thought processes aren’t always rational, although of course she thinks they are, and she acts out in response to things in ways that didn’t always make sense to me. I did find myself liking her quite a bit in spite of these things though, and I was eager for her to come out on top of the various situations in which she finds herself. Still, if unreliable narrators aren’t your thing, you might want to skip this particular book.
I have to be up front and let potential readers know that parts of this novel seem the tiniest bit implausible. It sometimes feels as though the author was trying too hard to shock his readers by pulling twists out of nowhere, but oddly, this didn’t detract too much from my overall enjoyment of the story. Sure, I would have liked certain elements of the plot to have been a bit more realistic, but I was able to suspend my disbelief and go with the flow. If you’re able to do this, What She Doesn’t Know should prove to be an enjoyable thriller you won’t want to put down.
This novel contains quite a few very graphic descriptions of violence. I read a lot of mysteries, and I wasn’t too bothered by them, but I know some readers are troubled by overly detailed depictions of death. There is one scene involving a bathtub that did make me a bit queasy, so I thought it worth mentioning here.
What she Doesn’t Know isn’t a perfect book, but it is one I ended up enjoying in spite of its flaws. I know Mr. Kaufman has written a few other mysteries, and I’m eager to check them out. It’s always nice to find an author who writes solid thrillers that don’t take themselves too seriously. Sometimes, I just want to lose myself in a harmless bit of fun, and that’s what this particular novel was for me. I hope to find more of the same in his backlist.