JUST BETWEEN US
by Rebecca Drake
Four suburban mothers conspire to cover up a deadly crime in Just Between Us, a heart-stopping novel of suspense by Rebecca Drake.
Alison, Julie, Sarah, Heather. Four friends living the suburban ideal. Their jobs are steady, their kids are healthy. They’re as beautiful as their houses. But each of them has a dirty little secret, and hidden behind the veneer of their perfect lives is a crime and a mystery that will consume them all.
Everything starts to unravel when Alison spots a nasty bruise on Heather’s wrist. She shares her suspicions with Julie and Sarah, compelling all three to investigate what looks like an increasingly violent marriage. As mysterious injuries and erratic behavior mount, Heather can no longer deny the abuse, but she refuses to leave her husband. Desperate to save her, Alison and the others dread the phone call telling them that she’s been killed. But when that call finally comes, it’s not Heather who’s dead. In a moment they’ll come to regret, the women must decide what lengths they’ll go to in order to help a friend.
Just Between Us is a thrilling glimpse into the underbelly of suburbia, where not all neighbors can be trusted, and even the closest friends keep dangerous secrets. You never really know what goes on in another person’s mind, or in their marriage.
The strange thing about a secret is it longs to be told. Someone can confide personal news —a terminal illness, having lied on a job application, even an indiscretion with a stranger— and you might simply focus on the story itself, the details and the implications, but if they add that caveat—“ don’t tell”— then suddenly that’s all you can think about doing.
…her small, probably fixed, ferrety nose sniffing the air while she darted beady-eyed looks about the room. I doubted she’d ever been in Heather’s house before—she was an acquaintance rather than a friend, one of those women who believed that personal power came from the collection, and distribution, of gossip.
The coffin was a huge, satin-padded mahogany box, Viktor tucked into its folds like a piece of expensive mail-order fruit that got delayed somewhere in transit, polished and presentable, hiding a rotting core.
It was the sort of death he might have appreciated, high-intensity and cinematic, crashing through a guardrail and plunging thirty feet into the river. A swift end to a short life, but people like that seem destined to die young.
I seem to have been a suspense junket lately, and I’ve surprised myself with how much I’ve enjoyed them, but it has also cost me greatly as I am now sleep deprived. My lack of somnolence came not only from being enthralled and unable to put my Kindle down but from also ruminating about the characters and storylines once I finally closed my eyes. Just Between Us presented such a conundrum. It was well plotted, full of creative and unimagined twists and turns, and terribly hard to put down. The primary and as well as many secondary characters were well fleshed out and knowable, but not all at once, as shocking surprises were in store from each household.
The four women were uniquely unsuited to be friends. This wily author presented them in a cunning and intriguing manner, tantalizing me with unpredictable and questionable behaviors and thoughts, as well as making them annoyingly realistic and significantly flawed once the layers of civility were removed. Not a one of them were as I had expected or as they had presented themselves, to anyone. Each had dark and shameful secrets hidden in their histories, which were compounded by the new clandestine activities they had been caught up with. They had pulled together with the united purpose of assisting one of their own then became ensnared and saw no choice but to press forward with riskier and outright illicit behaviors. It is so true to form that when in the midst of a crisis options appear limited or nonexistent, but a day or so later all the alternatives of should have and could have, will flood the mind. The storylines heated up and boiled over as the four ladies began to unravel from the guilt and stress with panic attacks, paranoia, resentments, distrust, and destructive bad habits that frayed and fractures their ties. But I never saw this ending coming, it was cleverly devised and craftily enacted, yet oddly disquieting as well.
About the Author
Rebecca Drake is the author of the novels Don’t Be Afraid, The Next Killing, The Dead Place, which was an IMBA bestseller, and Only Ever You, as well as the short story “Loaded,” which was featured in Pittsburgh Noir. A graduate of Penn State University and former journalist, she is currently an instructor in Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction M.F.A. program. Rebecca lives in Pittsburgh, PA, with her husband and two children.