In Carter Wilson’s thriller, The New Neighbor, Irish transplant, bartender Aidan Marlowe, buries his much-loved wife, Holly, on the same day he wins the lottery. Talk about the ups and downs of fortune. Marlowe, as he prefers to call himself, is a new widower, facing the daunting prospect of raising twins, Bo and Maggie. As he stands at the graveside wondering how he is going to cope, he gets the news that he is now a millionaire. There’s a great irony to the timing here. Now Marlowe has money, at last, serious money, he no longer has his wife to share it with. All those years of struggle together, and she’s not here to share in the bounty. Of course, the money will make it easier to raise the children, won’t it?
One of the first things Marlowe decides to do is to uproot the children from Baltimore. He buys a 8,000 sq. ft. mansion in Bury Ct. There are several reasons for this decision, and Marlowe leaves all the old furniture behind for this fresh new start. The house Marlowe buys was owned by some very wealthy people who simply disappeared. Marlowe becomes fascinated by the mystery of their disappearance.
It’s clear that life is not going to be smooth sailing for Marlowe, millions or no millions, but the money should pave the way, but instead, the money brings unexpected complications when anonymous, threatening notes begin to arrive. …After the threats pile up, Marlowe brings his Da, from Ireland to help, but Marlowe’s actions, drinking and blackouts raise the question of his sanity. Plus then there’s the whole unreliable narrator thing.
I liked the novel’s premise and the way the parasites some crawling out of the woodwork, drawn by the smell of money, but found a number of things implausible and other things jarring: the description of Holly’s face decomposing like a “pumpkin rotting in the sun”–a truly horrible image of the woman he loves from Marlowe’s mind (made me wonder if he did love her), and then the way he answers his cell phone at the graveside. Yes, he was alone, so there was no one to tut-tut–except me. Readers should be aware that there are descriptions of animal torture. This is a deal breaker for a lot of readers. You have warning and can skip it … still…