This novel describes what happens as the protagonist, Elizabeth Burns, becomes fascinated with understanding the story behind the death years ago of her best friend from first grade, April. As the story progresses, we discover, bit by bit, the story of April's mother, Adelaide, that ultimately makes clear the desperation and hopelessness that can lead some women to commit the ultimate betrayal.
Kogan's first novel is well written and captivating. I stayed up far later than I should one night to finish it. However, there were certain aspects of the plot that prevented it from being a truly great novel. Elizabeth remembers WAY too many details of the conversation and setting of encounters she had back in first grade to be plausible. Interviews with people from Adelaide's past conveniently divulge realms of right-on- target information. A trip to Adelaide's psychiatrist produces written transcripts from a handful of therapy sessions that just happen to include, implausibly early in the therapeutic process, a group session including April, that just happens to yield all sorts of valuable insights. Finally, before Elizabeth even has the chance to visit Adelaide's widowed husband, he writes HER a letter asking her to drop her project--out of respect for his privacy--but which then goes on for several pages blabbing all sorts of intimate details about their marriage.
I am guessing that women will like this book much more than men, because there isn't a likable man in the entire novel. Elizabeth's husband is so awful (working until 11:00 pm literally just about every night, and neglecting Elizabeth completely unless it is to request kinky S&M sex) that he is almost a caricature. My major criticism of the novel, in fact, is that it appears to portray women as relatively submissive beings held emotional hostage to the whims of their men... up until the point they take fate in their own hands in a last desperate and tragic act.
Flaws notwithstanding, I recommend the novel because it will grip your attention and get you thinking. Kogan does an excellent job in struggling to render a sympathetic portrait of women who commit monstrous acts, and for that she is to be commended. I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.