Vain, arrogant, dominating it on people less than themselves, the queen-bee moms of Ivy Woods Drive, a special criminal in a DC suburb, spend much of their autumn planning their Halloween block party. (For some reason, it’s the event of the year.) But according to an unnamed character from Tara Laskowski The Mother Next Door (Grayden House, 340 pp. paper, $16.99)By the end of this October party, “one of us will die.”
The book, a polished and captivating tribute”big little lie“And” Desperate Housewives,” begins seven weeks before Halloween. The Ivy Five, as the mothers call themselves, are in a state of frenzy. What will they wear? How will they decorate? Think Halloween decorations,” says one.
But Theresa Pressley, who has just moved to Ivy Woods with her husband and teenage daughter, thinks all is not well. For one thing, there are only four ivy; The fifth one is missing. Why wouldn’t anyone talk about that? what did he do? (What did the other four do? “It’s been 13 years,” an anonymous person calling herself a “ghost girl,” says in a message to a neighborhood watch group. “This Halloween I take revenge.”)
Soon Theresa is awarded an iconic bejeweled pin in the shape of an ivy leaf, marking her entrance into this nest of vipers. Before autumn ends, we will be immersed not only in murder, but also in adultery, fake identities, bullying and others locking up barns. The cult is bonkers, but satisfying.
Not that Theresa is necessarily innocent. When she buys Blueberry-Apricot Tarts from the store and pretends they’re homemade, we wonder what else she’s lying. “How many hours do you have?” She tells herself, when someone asks her if she has any secrets. But out loud she says, “I’m afraid I’m making me old.”