A Simple Favour by Darcey Bell
The collected works of Liane Moriarty, Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl;it seems as though the past few years the genre of domestic thrillers was born thanks to some truly epic female authors. I don’t quite know what it is about these types of books, but there is something about them that I simply cannot go past when it comes time for me to buy a whole new haul of books. There is something so deliciously erotic about this new sub-genre that has captured a huge audience over the past few years and, whatever the formula is for these stories, it is a winner.
I hadn’t heard of A Simple Favour before interviews with Anna Kendricks and Blake Lively started popping up all over the internet as they kicked off the press run for their movie of the same name. I love both of those actresses and the trailer was good and then I learned that it was a novel before a movie (of course it was) and that was it, I knew I had to read it.
Overall, I did enjoy this book, yes, however there were a few things that I felt a tad underwhelmed by. But more on that in a bit.
“She’s your best friend.
She knows all your secrets.
That’s why she’s so dangerous.
A single mother’s life is turned upside down when her best friend vanishes in this chilling debut thriller. It starts with a simple favor—an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another. When her best friend, Emily, asks Stephanie to pick up her son Nicky after school, she happily says yes. Nicky and her son, Miles, are classmates and best friends, and the five-year-olds love being together—just like she and Emily. A widow and stay-at-home mommy blogger living in woodsy suburban Connecticut, Stephanie was lonely until she met Emily, a sophisticated PR executive whose job in Manhattan demands so much of her time.
But Emily doesn’t come back. She doesn’t answer calls or return texts. Stephanie knows something is terribly wrong—Emily would never leave Nicky, no matter what the police say. Terrified, she reaches out to her blog readers for help. She also reaches out to Emily’s husband, the handsome, reticent Sean, offering emotional support. It’s the least she can do for her best friend. Then, she and Sean receive shocking news. Emily is dead. The nightmare of her disappearance is over.
Or is it? Because soon, Stephanie will begin to see that nothing—not friendship, love, or even an ordinary favor—is as simple as it seems.”
From the blurb, A Simple Favour has all the promise of a truly gripping mystery/thriller and it is what made me want to dive into this book immediately. What I liked about this book is that I had no idea what to expect. The disappearance of Emily was sudden and unexplained and left me conjuring so many possibilities as to what could have made her run away from her life. I also appreciated that the ‘action’ started almost immediately – the disappearance takes place quite early on in the book and the remaining characters are left scrambling to figure things out.
What I found though was that the blurb offered more bark than bite. And, although I loved that we were thrown into disarray with Emily’s disappearance so early on, it meant that the characters were (extremely) undercooked. Yes, we are given shallow insights into their pasts and all of their secrets but there isn’t enough time in the book before everything kicks off to develop any real emotional connections with any of the characters. I can’t say too much without spoiling some of the story, but the secrets that each of them have weren’t that shocking to me either. Maybe my resolve has become hardened by all of the books of this genre that I have read, or maybe I am just used to all the awful shit that happens in real life that I read or hear about on the news – but what the two main characters claim to be their darkest secrets weren’t all that shocking to me. At all.
I am also someone who loves being kept guessing until the very end, until the very most absolute last moment. I felt that the explanation of Emily’s disappearance came too quickly in the story and found that after it was uncovered, I found myself far less interested in the characters and the story itself. When the main elements of the mystery were revealed I found that I was able to predict and piece together the rest pretty easily and quickly.
It was a simple read and much like books of the same vein, even though the characters lacked for me, there is still that mysterious, dark element that keeps you turning every page. A Simple Favour is one of those books that you enjoy while you are reading it and would probably recommend to a friend because it is entertaining and easy to dive into. I haven’t seen the movie yet but I really want to because, maybe for the first time ever, I think you could do a lot more with the story than with what is written in the book.