"The Accident" by Linwood Barclay: Book Review

"The Accident" by Linwood Barclay
Bantam, 386 pp., $25
Reviewed by David Marshall James

The housewives of Milford, Connecticut, couldn't be much more desperate.

Selling counterfeit goods (everything from knockoff handbags to questionably effective prescription drugs), prostituting themselves for their friends' husbands, fabricating outlandish incidents in order to garner more attention.

To be fair, some of the husbands aren't trailing far behind. They, too, have their individual hang-up's and deep, dark secrets.

Small-business (building contractor) owner Glen Garber is also desperate, but for another reason.

He has lost his wife in a car accident for which the circumstances seem totally out-of-line with her character and regular behavior. She isn't where she's supposed to be when it occurs.

Glen, refusing to accept the official call on the accident, begins poking around in the secrets of the desperadoes (housewives, that is) with whom his wife has associated.

However, what really pulls the string that starts the ball unraveling is the video that Glen's daughter, Kelly, captures on her cell phone while playing indoors hide-and-seek at her friend Emily's house.

Glen and Kelly are the center at the wheel of this story, which also spokes out to include Glen's in-laws and business associates.

Author Linwood Barclay drills into the dark substrata of supposedly comfortable suburban lifestyles in a similar manner to Harlan Coben's thrillers.

Not to give credit to any one person for developing this genre, whose roots trace at least as far back as the novels and short stories of John's Cheever and Updike.

Barclay writes in a smooth style that keeps the reader hopping from one chapter to the next.

He places deceptively simple clues throughout, clues that will doubtless have the reader thinking, "Wow, I should have caught that," when the plot revelations begin to surface.

The author also manages two nice twists, along with several subplots involving mysterious deaths aside from Glen's wife's "accident."

Close-to-home thrills don't come much better than this.

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