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Thanks to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Date: August 10th, 2021

384 Pages

Synopsis: A shooting lays bare the secrets harbored by five families in a sleepy suburban cul-de-sac in this riveting psychological thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of All the Wrong Places.

Someone on this quiet, unassuming cul-de-sac will be shot dead in the middle of a sultry July night.

Will it be Maggie, the perfectionist wife, or Craig, the husband who can’t quite live up to her expectations? They’ve packed up their two children and fled their life in California, hoping for a fresh start in Florida, only to find the demons of the past hovering on their doorstep.

Maybe it will be Nick, a highly respected oncologist, or his wife, Dani, a successful dentist, both with well-kept secrets of their own.

Or Julia, an elderly widow, whose troubled grandson has recently moved in with her, introducing unsavory habits and even more unsavory acquaintances into her formerly quiet existence.

Then there’s Olivia and her husband, Sean. Having lost his job at a prestigious advertising agency, Sean is depressed, resentful of his working wife, and drinking heavily. He is also prone to increasingly violent fantasies.

And what of the newlyweds, Aiden and Heidi, whose marriage is already on the rocks, due to Aiden’s reluctance to stand up to his intrusive mother? Matters aren’t helped when Heidi befriends Julia’s grandson, setting the stage for a major blowup.

A diverse group of neighbors, to be sure. Yet all harbor secrets. All bear scars. And all have access to guns.

Not all will survive the night. (Goodreads)

It’s normally such a quiet street. Small, unassuming, solidly middle class. Not the sort of place one usually associates with the shocking events of that hot July night. Ask any of the residents and they will agree that none of their neighbors seemed capable of committing such a cold-blooded heinous act.

I’ve been reading Joy Fielding’s books since the mid-1980s, and for the most part Cul-de-sac is further proof that despite her being seventy-six, she hasn’t lost any of her mojo. 

There are five houses on this small Palm Beach cul-de-sac, and while at first glance the inhabitants seem fairly ordinary, it soon becomes clear that they’re all keeping secrets and for most of the book it’s anyone’s guess who will turn out to be the shooter and the victim. There are multiple POVs but Maggie’s is the one that takes center stage. Her backstory doesn’t resemble what’s said in the premise. She actually witnessed a brutal crime, and after trying to do the right thing, she and her family are threatened and move to Florida in an attempt to start over. I really liked and emphasized with her, although there’s one incredibly stupid thing that she does near the end that puts not only her life in danger, but also her young son’s as well. The other households of this seemingly serene little neighborhood for the most part fit squarely into various tropes with a few tweaks to each one. My favorite was Julia and her grandson Mark, who is a bit of a troublemaker, yet shows promise. They have a sweet relationship and are surprisingly good for each other. As I reached the final chapters I surmised who this ultimate violent act was going to involve, but it was still interesting to see it play out. I also appreciated the epilogue as it wraps everyone’s stories up leaving no loose ends.

Cul-de-sac, is what I would call a popcorn book. Although it deals with some heavy topics: domestic abuse, sexual assault, PTSD, gun violence, and substance abuse, it doesn’t require any deep thinking and it’s an entertaining and quick read. I unhesitatingly recommend it especially for fans of the late Mary Higgins Clark.