Once an elementary school teacher, thirty-something Emily Harlow is now a professional ‘declutterer’. She and her friend Becca have started a business which they call Freeze-Frame Clutter Kickers.
It is ironic that Emily makes a living purging people of their possessions because Emily’s lawyer husband Frank is a ‘collector’ and a pack-rat whose hobby is verging on hoarding. Although she loves Frank, she is getting more and more impatient with his constantly bringing home other people’s junk. Also, the fact that they have been trying for a baby and have not been successful has put added strain on their relationship.
When Clutter Kickers gets two new clients, their business and their lives take a turn for the worse. Their first new client, an elderly woman named Mrs. Murphy, wants them to clear out a storage unit which her late husband had rented out. When Emily enters the unit she finds that it is full of old books, maps and other memorabilia. All of which was once quite valuable – but due to the failure of the storage unit’s climate control system is now moldy and quite possibly damaged beyond repair.
Their second new client is a woman named Quinn Newell. Quinn wants Emily to clear out her garage. While scouting out the location, Quinn tells Emily she would love to get out from under her husband’s domineering ways. Over several glasses of Prosecco, the women ‘over-share’ and vent about their unsatisfactory marriages. The next day, Quinn’s husband is reported missing.
To further Emily’s involvement, Quinn’s husband’s body is found in the storage unit rented out by Mrs. Murphy’s husband…. How could Emily’s two new clients have become enmeshed in such a way? And, more importantly, how will this affect Emily and her business?
The New England setting and the personable character of Emily added to this book’s allure. The elaborate con-game which had Emily in its cross-hairs was well executed and devious.
I quite enjoyed this book. It read almost like a ‘cozy’ mystery but was laced with elements of a domestic thriller. A light, entertaining novel, “Careful what you wish for” will be enjoyed by many readers. I think the cover lends itself to a more serious thriller, but if the cover had of been more like a cozy I probably wouldn’t have read it – and that would have been a shame.
I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from William Morrow via Edelweiss. This fact in no way influenced my honest review.
Hallie Ephron is an American novelist, book reviewer, journalist, and writing teacher. She is the author of mystery and domestic suspense novels. Her novels Never Tell a Lie, There Was an Old Woman, Come and Find Me, and Night Night, Sleep Tight were finalists for the Mary Higgins Clark Award.
Hallie is also the award-winning crime fiction book reviewer for the Boston Globe and teaches fiction writing at writing conferences. For twelve years Ephron reviewed crime fiction for the Boston Globe.
Hallie Ephron was born in Los Angeles, California, to parents Henry and Phoebe Ephron, both East Coast-born-and-raised screenwriters. She graduated from Barnard College in 1969. She lives with her husband and two daughters near Boston, Massachusetts.
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