TITLE: The Night the Lights Went Out
AUTHOR: Karen White
PUBLISHER: Berkley Books
PUBLISHING DATE: April 11, 2017
FROM GOODREADS: Recently divorced, Merilee Talbot Dunlap moves with her two children to the Atlanta suburb of Sweet Apple, Georgia. It s not her first time starting over, but her efforts at a new beginning aren't helped by an anonymous local blog that dishes about the scandalous events that caused her marriage to fail.
Merilee finds some measure of peace in the cottage she is renting from town matriarch Sugar Prescott. Though stubborn and irascible, Sugar sees something of herself in Merilee something that allows her to open up about her own colorful past.
Sugar's stories give Merilee a different perspective on the town and its wealthy school moms in their tennis whites and shiny SUVs, and even on her new friendship with Heather Blackford. Merilee is charmed by the glamorous young mother's seemingly perfect life and finds herself drawn into Heather's world.
In a town like Sweet Apple, where sins and secrets are as likely to be found behind the walls of gated mansions as in the dark woods surrounding Merilee's house, appearance is everything. But just how dangerous that deception can be will shock all three women....
I don't know why I initially thought this was a chick-lit book. I mean, it's not described as chick-lit (and in case you're wondering, I don't think there's anything wrong with that genre, I just don't read a lot of it). However, "The Nights the Lights Went Out" is a great mystery book that also holds awesome characters and even a little white dog who saves the day.
Merilee and her two children have moved to a rental cottage behind Sugar Prescott's house following her divorce from Michael. Merilee's esteem has really taken a beating as Michael had an affair with her daughter Lily's teacher, who is now pregnant. While Merilee has a job and the reader can tell there is some fire inside of her somewhere waiting to get out, she also has a lot of secrets and has a lot of reasons for hating herself. Merilee starts to make some new friends mainly through contact with the uppity parents at Lily and her son Colin's new school. A lot of people Merilee meet seem fake and what I call "status concerned" which isn't really a priority for her. But on top of that, you have to throw in the character of Sugar. Sugar is a 93/94 year old woman who has lived in the area her whole life. She really has no need for people and mainly just associates with her best friend forever, Willafaye and her grandson, Wade. Sugar and Merilee connect for some reason, even though it's obvious Sugar really doesn't want another connection in her life. They both see parts of themselves in the other one and I think it initially scares them both.
So basically the plot is a lot of character developments, several mysteries including a freshly discovered dead body and remnants of a possible murder from years gone past, a lot of "mean girl" actions, and flashbacks from Sugar's life. There's some romantic interest as well which develops through the course of the book but it's minor and I love that White didn't make it a focal point of the novel. Did I mention how awesome I found Sugar? I don't know if it's because he reminds me of the female equivalent of my 95 year old grandfather who I dearly love or if it's just her spunk and sass, but if I had to have a landlady right now, she would be the one I'd want.
Finally, who knew? There is a little stray white dog who saves the day (but I won't tell you whose day or how because you know, spoilers). Colin finally names her Dixie which is fitting in so many ways but you'll have to read to find out. I honestly think I might be recommending this book for some time to come. I didn't expect to love it so much and those are the kinds of books which tend to stick in my mind. If you are interested in a good book about friendships and family with a decent mystery subtlety thrown in, then definitely consider Karen White's newest release.
I received this book from the Penguin First to Read program in exchange for an honest review.
RATING: 4 PAWS