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Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The Mother Next Door by Tara Laskowski

The Mother Next Door by Tara Laskowski
Published by Graydon House ISBN 9781525804700
Trade paperback, $16.99, 352 pages

Over the last decade or so, Halloween has become a holiday to rival Christmas. Tara Laskowski uses an elaborate neighborhood Halloween celebration as the centerpiece of her twisty novel The Mother Next Door

When Theresa's husband Adam gets a great job as the new principal of a well-respected suburban high school, she does her best to fit in with the moms in Ivy Woods, her new neighborhood and the best cul-de-sac in town. Kendra is the Queen Bee of what is known as the "Ivy Five", and Theresa's new neighbor.

Kendra rules over all the other moms, and when she takes Theresa under her wing, the other Ivy Five (Alice, Bettina and divorced mom Pia) somewhat reluctantly follow along. But where is the fifth mom of the Ivy Five?

That is a question that Theresa wants an answer to, but information is not ready forthcoming from the other moms. They make snide comments about the missing mom, about her looks, her artistic talent, and the reason she left town.

As the Ivy Five plan their Halloween Spectacular, in which the entire town comes to Ivy Woods to participate, Theresa joins in and is pulled in further into the Five's orbit. She and her high school freshman daughter Lily go all out decorating their yard as a graveyard.

Theresa is not fond of Lily's new friend Ellen, who seems obsessed with a local legend of a young woman who jumped off a bridge to her death years ago on Halloween. 

There are secrets abound, including a big one that Theresa is hiding from her husband, and when it appears that someone is stalking the Ivy Five on Facebook and then in person, it looks like things may come to a head at this year's Halloween Spectacular.

The Mother Next Door is the kind of book you stay up late to finish (I was up way past my bedtime reading this one). Laskowski invests you in her characters, and her propulsive story, when you can finally let out the breath you have been holding as you find out exactly what is going on here. It's a terrific Halloween read, and fans of Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies will enjoy.

Thanks to Harlequin for putting me on Tara Laskowski's tour. 

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