cover image A Gracious Neighbor

A Gracious Neighbor

Chris Cander. Little A, $24.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-5420-3917-8

The witty, suspenseful latest by Cander (The Weight of a Piano) reimagines a short story by Susan Gaspell into an account of class, gender roles, and domestic violence. Martha Hale, frumpy and nearly friendless, has had trouble keeping up with her athleisure-clad neighbors in Houston’s West University Place neighborhood since moving there 14 years earlier with her sweet but hapless husband. So she’s thrilled when her former high school classmate, the elegant and charming Minnie, moves in next door with her hunky plastic surgeon husband, John. As Martha tries to build a friendship with Minnie, she ignores signs that all is not right in Minnie and John’s marriage. After some of the gossipy school moms suggest that the couple moved to Houston because of a sex tape scandal involving John, Minnie, with more Nancy Drew fervor than common sense, stages a home invasion in hopes of finding and destroying the tape, and soon finds herself in more danger than she could have anticipated. Cander cleverly combines sharply observed satire, a keen sense of place, and a feminist sensibility. Fans of Liane Moriarty will eat this up. (July)