Here’s a novel that actually lives up to the “next Gone Girl” hype: A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell. Twisted people doing twisted things to each other and a few people wind up dead. It’s like a disturbing soap opera. A few criticisms of the book I’ve read suggest that it might be a touch too twisted for some. The characters in particular. However, I thought it was a perfectly enjoyable thriller with a very nice open ending.
The basic plot is this: Stephanie, who runs a mom-blog, is left picking up the pieces after her best friend Emily simply disappears. But soon it becomes clear Emily’s disappearance is anything but simple. Alternating narrative voices between Stephanie, entries from Stephanie’s blog, Emily, and Emily’s husband Sean, we begin to realize that none of these people are entirely what they seem.
A Simple Favor has all the elements of Gone Girl (the dastardly plan, the bizarre marriage dynamic, the one character who is seriously nuts), but somehow it all plays out in a less threatening and disturbing way than that book did. Don’t get me wrong, this is a disturbing cat-and-mouse kind of thriller, and it’s got suitably disturbed characters, and it is certainly evocatively written with great idiosyncratic voices. Yet there’s something about these characters, and about the game they’re playing, that really feels like a soap. I say that just to give you an idea of the tone, not as a criticism (like I said, I enjoyed this very much!). Also, there’s more than a dash of VC Andrews in with the Patricia Highsmith. If you get my drift.
A Simple Favor does me the favor of offering up its own perfect readalikes in-text. If you enjoy this book, or Gone Girl, or books like it, definitely try Patricia Highsmith if you haven’t already. Strangers on a Train would be good. For a watch-alike, go classic with a Hitchcock movie.