It is always astonishing that no matter how many domestic suspense novels are released, authors still find new ways into these twisted tales and inventive methods to fool the reader as to their eventual outcome. Katherine Faulkner does both – to stunning effect – in her debut novel, Greenwich Park.
The tangled truths of Greenwich Park begin with a core foursome – two siblings (Helen and Rory) and their spouses (Daniel and Serena) – who have all known each other for years. They first met and began their respective relationships in college and the group has been virtually inseparable since. So much so that when Helen and Serena end up pregnant with similar due dates, it feels like destiny. The only problem is that as the births approach, Serena and Rory seem to be pulling back from their closeness with Helen and Daniel. At the same time, Daniel’s workload – at an architectural firm owned by Rory – is demanding more of his time and putting strain on the marriage, leaving Helen feeling emotional and extremely lonely.
When Helen is stood up her husband and friends at their first scheduled childbirth class she takes it as a sign that she needs to expand her social circle. At the class she meets Rachel, who also seems in need of companionship through the challenges each stage of pregnancy is guaranteed to present. Helen and Rachel begin to bond – both at the weekly classes and at spontaneous social meetings in and around their upscale Greenwich neighborhood.
The more Helen learns about Rachel, the stronger that connection becomes, so when Rachel shows up at her door with obvious signs of domestic abuse, Helen thinks nothing of inviting her to stay for a few days. Until those few days turn into weeks. Daniel is uncomfortable with a stranger in their house, but admits that the bruising and reticence Rachel is displaying are of concern. Eventually, wanting to introduce Rachel to their friends and family, Helen invites her to attend a party Serena is hosting. It is here that Rachel’s effect on the main cast of players becomes evident. After a second party at Helen and Daniel’s home, nothing will ever be the same.
Meanwhile, Helen and Rory younger brother Charlie, has a contentious relationship with his siblings. Not surprising since they consider him a bit of a slacker. Fortunately, his girlfriend Katie, relates well to his family and keeps that relationship tenuously intact. Katie is a reporter and little does she know, but she is about to become entangled in a news story that hits far to close to home.
Katherine Faulkner uses three narrative voices to tell this complex story – Helen, Serena, and Katie. There are also occasional vignettes simply titled Greenwich Park that make it clear something sinister is going on, but leaves it to the reader to make those connections as more details are revealed at each interruption of the main plot. Faulkner uses a clever, yet perfectly reasonable, timeline structure to roll out the action: breaking up the novel’s sections to correspond with the pregnancy calendar starting at Week 26 and progressing to Week 41, followed by a brief coda at One Year Later. While this novel is about the approach of motherhood, the gestation of secrets is equally as important to the lives of those in Greenwich Park.
For a first novel, Katherine Faulkner has so many intertwined storylines in play that readers will begin to worry that a coalescence is near-impossible; but rest assured this is an author with a firm grasp on every angle at play here and the multiple, shocking reveals in the final pages of the novel are sure to satisfy even the most finicky of domestic suspense fans. It’s a true wonder to behold as all the pieces slide into place for a believable, yet wholly-unexpected conclusion. Greenwich Park is guaranteed to garner fans who will be anxious for this author’s next twisted tale.
Disclaimer: An e-galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the author. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.