Category Archives: The Neighbor’s Secret

Review: The Neighbor’s Secret by L. Alison Heller

Title: The Neighbor’s Secret by L. Alison Heller
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 325 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


L. Alison Heller, whose work has been praised by Liane Moriarty as “warm, witty…refreshingly true to life,” explores the ultimate sacrifices of parenting in The Neighbor’s Secret, a propulsive and juicy novel filled with gripping twists and instantly recognizable characters.

How well do you really know your neighbors?

With its sprawling yards and excellent schools, Cottonwood Estates is the perfect place to raise children. The Cottonwood Book Club serves as the subdivision’s eyes and ears, meeting once a month for discussion, gossip, and cocktails. If their selections trend toward twisty thrillers and salacious murder mysteries, it’s only because the members feel secure that such evil has no place in their own cul-de-sacs.

Or does it?

What happened to Lena’s family fifteen years ago was a tragic accident, and she will never admit otherwise. Devoted wife and mother Annie refuses to acknowledge—even to herself—the weight of a past shame. And new resident Jen wants friends, but as always, worry about her troubled son gets in the way.

When late-night acts of vandalism target the women of the book club in increasingly violent and personal ways, they will be forced to decide how far to go to keep their secrets. At least they all agree on what’s most important: protecting their children at any cost—even if it means someone has to die.


The Neighbor’s Secret by L. Alison Heller is an intriguing mystery set in an upscale Colorado suburb.

Jen Chun-Pergano, her husband and their teenage son Abe have recently relocated from California to Colorado. Jen has given up her career to keep an eye on Abe whose troubling behavior keeps ending in school expulsions. Her husband travels a lot for business so she decides to join the neighborhood book club. Annie Perley is a school counselor who is concerned about her teenage daughter Laurel’s sudden personality changes. Annie befriends much older Lena Meeker who has been a recluse since a tragedy fifteen years earlier. Over the next several months, they and their other neighbors meet monthly for their book club where they gossip more than they discuss their month’s book selection.

Jen frets about Abe when he is expelled from yet another school. With few options left, they make the unlikely selection of a very small school where Abe unexpectedly thrives. With school no longer a concern, Jen worries about the identity of the neighborhood vandal. Although the vandalism is not serious, it is quite the source of speculation between the book club attendees. Jen remains hopeful the person responsible is not her son…

Annie’s friendship with Lena is unlikely yet the two become rather close once they begin to get to know each other. Lena also gradually becomes a surrogate grandmother for Laurel and Annie’s son Hank. Annie’s worry about Laurel begins to lessen as she surprisingly becomes friends with Abe and takes up running. But did Annie breathe a sigh of relief just a little too soon?

Lena used to be the life of the party but she now stays home with little contact with the outside world. She and her daughter keep in touch through video calls but they rarely see one another in person. Lena is surprised by Annie’s overtures and she is soon enjoying their time together. Although she resists Annie’s initial attempts to lure her to book club, Lena soon looks forward to the monthly outings. But will she come to regret these changes when disaster strikes again?

The Neighbor’s Secret is a darkly entertaining mystery that is quite compelling. The chapters alternate between Annie, Lena and Jen’s perspectives. There are also short chapters from an unknown person’s point of view that grow more ominous over the course of the story. Annie’s parenting challenges with Laurel ring true while Jen’s concerns about Abe are a little heartbreaking. Lena’s past is certainly interesting and quite suspenseful. With unanticipated twists and stunning turns, L. Alison Heller brings this devilishly clever mystery to a stunning conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Flatiron Books, L Alison Heler, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Neighbor's Secret