Charlotte’s brother’s latest girlfriend Ruth is greeted with some justified suspicion in Darcey Bell’s Something She’s Not Telling Us. His history of dating highly unstable women, occasional lapses in sobriety and a demonstrated lack of judgement cause his family to scrutinize his latest conquest. On the other hand, Charlotte is revealed to be an overprotective, paranoid and obsessive person who has some serious problems with objectivity and a tenuous grip on reality herself. Such a character makes for an interestingly biased perspective. This type of “protagonist” is an unreliable narrator akin to those Bell has employed in the past—one that causes the reader to immediately be on guard when evaluating her version of events. Other chapters feature the point of view of Ruth, another source that is transparently skewed. Fans of A Simple Favor and the film upon which it is based may be somewhat disappointed by Bell’s latest effort, for although the novel contains some innovative twists and is well written, it suffers from an overabundance of side plots that distract and stretch credulity. The psychology of the villain is incompletely developed, and her motives are insufficiently substantial to warrant the extremity of her actions. The reader is also left guessing as to why Ruth elects to victimize Rocco’s family, and Charlotte and her family are so unlikeable that not a lot of pity is generated for them. The big revelations are a bit predictable and banal, and the ending falls short of climactic. In sum, Something She’s Not Telling Us is diverting enough as a standard suspense story, but unfortunately is not one that is particularly remarkable or memorable.
Thanks to the author, Harper Collins and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.