The Perfect Neighborhood

Liz Alterman. Crooked Lane, $27.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-63910-021-7

YA author Alterman (He’ll Be Waiting) makes her adult debut with a skillful if conventional take on suburban noir. Actor Allison Langley and her former rock star husband, Chris, abandon their fast-paced New York lifestyle for idyllic Oak Hill, N.J., after his band breaks up. When their dreams of raising a family to match this perfect town are quashed by Allison’s infertility, the neighborhood is rocked by Allison’s leaving Chris and going into hiding. Then five-year-old Billy Barnes disappears while walking home alone from kindergarten. Billy’s mother, who has thrown herself into her real estate career to paper over her crumbling marriage, is distraught. Then a second child disappears while she’s being watched by the same teenage babysitter who showed up too late the afternoon Billy went missing. The frantic search to find the missing children exposes the ugly underbelly of Oak Hill: the alcoholic crossing guard, the babysitter distracted by an inappropriate relationship, the mommies who bring wine in their water bottles to PTA meetings and pool parties. Much of this is familiar territory, but there are enough fresh twists to keep the reader engaged. Alterman is off to a promising start. (July)
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