cover image A Tidy Ending

A Tidy Ending

Joanne Cannon. Scribner, $26.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-9821-8557-2

Linda Hammett, the unreliable narrator of this sublimely structured and darkly witty novel from British author Cannon (Three Things About Elsie), works in a charity shop and has recently moved with her husband, Terry, to an English housing estate. The flower beds are a tiny bit wider, and “Terry had more room to park his filthy van,” but they “still lived the same life.” That is, until the clothing catalog filled with elegant models and addressed to Rebecca Finch, the house’s former occupant, arrives. With Terry working odd hours when he’s not glued to the telly, Linda begins to daydream about the life she imagines for Rebecca. If only she could locate Rebecca, Linda is sure they could become friends. Then a young woman is found strangled, and the estate is abuzz with suspicion: someone local must be responsible. Linda’s search for her new potential friend runs parallel to the police investigation. The author does a superb job misdirecting the reader as Linda seems to misinterpret the motives of those around her. Through Linda’s voice, even a trip to the mall becomes fascinating and wryly amusing, and the multilayered plot offers genuine surprises up to the final revelation. Cannon has raised her game with this one. Agent: Susan Armstrong, Conville & Walsh Literary (U.K.). (Aug.)