by Moretti, Kate

When the past comes knocking at her door in the form of her old roommate, Willa Blaine, who needs refuge from an abusive husband, Penelope Cox, remembering the deadly events long ago when they were known as "the Spires," feels the cracks in her life widen as she questions Willa's motives.

A grim trauma from 20 years ago returns in the person of an old friend who survived it to wreak vengeance on a strong heroine who turns out to be surprisingly vulnerable. Penelope Ritter Cox used to have it all-congenial job, successful husband, perfect children, established New Jersey home-but her yield went down to maybe 70% when Brett Cox's insurance firm went bankrupt and he lost his job. Now things are getting worse on a daily basis. The slide begins the day Willamena Blaine turns up uninvited on Penelope's doorstep, pleading for Pip (a nickname Penelope loathes) to take her in because she's fled her abusive husband, Trent, and has nowhere else to go. Penelope hasn't seen Willa since their gap year after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, which they spent sharing a disused church with charming, abrasive Jack Avila, asexual virgin Bree Haren, and Bree's male friend Flynn Lockhart. The year ended badly when a fire in Church House claimed the life of one of its tenants, an incident Penelope secretly has good reason to feel guilty about. Once she's grudgingly allowed Willa into her house, her old buddy wastes no time in poking around among her belongings, wearing her jewelry, encouraging Penelope's children to confide in her, and seducing Jaime Heller, the widowed neighbor and friend Penelope's developed a crush on. Moretti, who's plowed this territory before, amps up the betrayals inch by inch until you're wondering if things can possibly get worse. They absolutely can, and not just because of that anticlimactic secret Moretti reveals in a carefully calibrated series of flashbacks. Reliable suburban creepiness for some night when you already can't sleep. Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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