The Stranger Behind You ~ by Carol Goodman

Fun. The book is different and interesting. It opens with a Prologue in which Joan Lurie is buying a fairly luxurious (for her) apartment in New York City. But she almost seems more concerned with the security systems than with the laundry or the view. Then Chapter 1 backs up and we find out why she’s so concerned with security.  It seems she wrote an long investigative newspaper article about a powerful man involved in the serial sexual abuse of women, especially those in his employ. She names names.  (Definitely #MeToo – but with a lot of tension.) 

The Stranger Behind You 
by Carol Goodman 

2021 / 
Read by Samantha Desz 11h 9m
Rating: A- / crime-mystery 

The article hits the news stands and the next day she discovers that the powerful man she was reporting on has committed suicide.  Also, Joan gets an offer for a book deal from a publisher and she’s attacked in her home. Now she can afford a decent new apartment.  

We are then introduced to another woman. The upscale Melissa Osgood is suddenly widowed when her husband commits suicide – yes. As a result of Joan’s article she is not only widowed, she’s broke and needs a new home. Joan and Melissa are developed as 1st person narrators. 

 Joan becomes what might be a bit paranoid even in her new apartment where she meets a third woman, Lilian Day. Lilian is 96 and tells Joan that the new apartment was, at some time in the past, a “Magdalen Laundries” type of residence, for the rehabilitation prostitutes  – or at least keep them safe. They called it “The Refuge” but that’s not it’s real name today. It’s similar to the homes for “fallen women” in Ireland.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magdalene_Laundries_in_Ireland  

An interesting bit is that Joan buys a voice-activated little computer thing like Alexa, which she starts using and also just talking to. She names it Bot. This part was fun –  

None of the women is completely reliable. Joan gets paranoid. Melissa is a bit off-kilter what with her hubby’s death and financial ruin. Lillian is unreliable because of her age – she just doesn’t remember what she’s trying to tell Joan – or does she? 

The building Joan and Melissa choose is old and heavily remodeled. It has several security cameras and there are back doors and hallways. Melissa choosing it is very much related to Joan being there. Melissa badly wants revenge – she’s plotting it. Lillian is lonely and needs someone to talk to? The doorman is very accommodating.  

It’s a fun read but not cozy by any means. The main theme is sexual abuse and that’s quite clear, but there are no really graphic scenes.  

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