By Aimee Molloy
Recommend? unfortunately not Buy or borrow? borrow
Newlyweds Sam Statler and Annie Potter are head over heels, and excited to say good-bye to New York and start a life together in Sam’s sleepy hometown in upstate New York. Or, it turns out, a life where Annie spends most of her time alone while Sam, her therapist husband, works long hours in his downstairs office, tending to the egos of his (mostly female) clientele.
Little does Sam know that through a vent in his ceiling, every word of his sessions can be heard from the room upstairs. The pharmacist’s wife, contemplating a divorce. The well-known painter whose boyfriend doesn’t satisfy her in bed. Who could resist listening? Everything is fine until the French girl in the green mini Cooper shows up, and Sam decides to go to work and not come home, throwing a wrench into Sam and Annie’s happily ever after.
I’m going to preface this review with the biggest of SPOILER ALERTS, because I honestly don’t think I can express how I feel about this book without mentioning what happens in it. So, take this as your warning to skip this review if you don’t want any spoilers.
Alright, here we go! As you can tell from my rating, I wasn’t a huge fan of this one. Let’s start with the synopsis – it was misleading. It says that “Sam decides to leave work on day and not come home”, but that’s not true? He literally gets hit with (I think) a shovel and is held captive. From the get-go the synopsis makes you think that Sam has an affair and leaves his wife. Now, I would understand if the author tried to make it seem like this as part of the plot, but the reader actually knows that he’s held captive so it’s just misleading and unnecessary!
It’s also mentioned in the synopsis that Annie, Sam’s wife, spends most of her time alone while Same is at work. Again, this just isn’t true. Annie is a professor, who leaves the house, and spends the majority of her time at work, just like Sam. At least this idea was built into the story, as the author leads you to believe that it’s Annie listening in on Sam’s session with his clients. However, it’s misleading to say that this is what the book is about.
Let’s move on to Sam and his WILD lack of self-control the money he doesn’t yet have, and will inevitably never receive. In one sense, it seems reasonable that he would be excited to have a big chunk of change coming in, but a chair that costs thousands of dollars? And the sheer number of credit cards he has seems unrealistic.
Speaking of Sam, why the consistent mention of his sex life? To a certain extent it was used to make it seem as though he left town with “the French girl in the green mini cooper”, but my goodness there was CONSTANT mention of his sex life. Why……
One of the biggest issues I had with the book was the “twist”. Eventually we find out that Sam’s new office ins’t in the basement of his own house, but that of a man named Albert who recently moved to town. Albert has been the one listening in on Sam’s sessions, making cocktails for happy hour every night, and ultimately the person who hits (accidentally? it’s unclear) Sam over the head and keeps him in a room upstairs. Now, this may not seem so bad, EXCEPT that what follows is essentially the plot of Misery by Stephen King – albeit a more tame version. Albert tells Sam that his legs are broken and that he is there to take care of him, gives him pain medication, and acts as his nurse. My primary question surrounding Albert’s obsession with Sam is why? There isn’t a single point in the book where that’s answered. It’s clear that Albert has personal conflict and feelings he needs to confront, so did he want Sam’s help with that? I have no clue.
On top of not knowing why Albert wants to be around Sam so often, there were SO many other loose ends. Why was Annie never a suspect in Sam’s disappearance? The investigation was actually laughable and you would think that the police would questions his family more closely, it seemed very unrealistic. When did Albert take the sleeping pills that lead to his death? One second he’s standing in the doorway and the next he’s on the ground? We find out where we got them from (they belonged to Sam’s mom), but it all seemed vague and rushed. Maybe it was meant to come across that way, but I find that it just lead to more confusion.
All in all I finished the book for my book club, and it was a quick read, but I did not enjoy the writing or the plot at all. The three parts of the book felt like three entirely different stories, and I don’t like that the plot of Misery created a large part of the plot of this.
If you’ve read this (and especially if you enjoyed it), I’d LOVE to hear from you. I have so many more questions and thoughts!