Book: Not That I Could Tell
Author: Jessica Strawser
Genre: Adult contemporary, domestic thriller
My rating: ★★★
When a group of neighborhood women gathers, wine in hand, around a fire pit where their backyards meet one Saturday night, most of them are just ecstatic to have discovered that their baby monitors reach that far. It’s a rare kid-free night, and they’re giddy with it. They drink too much, and the conversation turns personal.
By Monday morning, one of them is gone.
Everyone knows something about everyone else in the quirky small Ohio town of Yellow Springs, but no one can make sense of the disappearance. Kristin was a sociable twin mom, college administrator, and doctor’s wife who didn’t seem all that bothered by her impending divorce—and the investigation turns up more questions than answers, with her husband, Paul, at the center. For her closest neighbor, Clara, the incident triggers memories she thought she’d put behind her—and when she’s unable to extract herself from the widening circle of scrutiny, her own suspicions quickly grow. But the neighborhood’s newest addition, Izzy, is determined not to jump to any conclusions—especially since she’s dealing with a crisis of her own.
As the police investigation goes from a media circus to a cold case, the neighbors are forced to reexamine what’s going on behind their own closed doors—and to ask how well anyone really knows anyone else.
When I learned that Not That I Could Tell takes place in the small town of Yellow Springs, OH, I knew I had to add it to my March Book of the Month box. I have such fond memories visiting Yellow Springs with my husband, and it happens to be the sister city of my hometown, Athens, OH. It is very liberal, carefree, cozy, and surrounded by gorgeous state parks. Last weekend we took a day trip to Yellow Springs, where I got to pose with the book alongside some beautiful murals around town.
Not That I Could Tell follows a group of women who are neighbors. One night they decide to have some wine by a bonfire. By the next morning, one of the women is gone. Right off the bat, we have a mystery. Someone is missing. I immediately got Big Little Lies vibes and was pulled into the story.
As the police begin to question each of the women at the bonfire, you discover a bit about their lives, too. One gets roped into the investigation way more than she bargained for; one becomes a bit too close to a suspect; one has a daughter who does her own investigating to expose the truth.
With that being said, I’ll get into The Good and The Bad.
- The friendships. Everyone is so tight knit and welcoming.
- Gay representation. Knowing how liberal Yellow Springs is, I am glad Strawser included Randi and Rhoda. They are a delightful couple.
- Yellow Springs. I loved how many real hot spots were included. I felt like I was discovering Easter eggs as I kept reading. I’d come across Young’s Jersey Dairy, the Sunrise Cafe, John Bryan State Park — all places I’ve visited.
- Predictable twists and anticlimactic reveals. I wanted more suspense.
- Too contemporary. I was led to believe this book was a mystery/thriller, but it leans way more on the contemporary side.
- I wanted to see more of the investigative side of the case. There just wasn’t enough detective work, sadly.
- One of the characters is an insufferable idiot. (I won’t reveal who)
I am giving this book 3 stars because I overall liked the writing style, the friendships, and the ending. I am disappointed it felt like a contemporary book, which I wasn’t in the mood to read at the time. I will recommend this book if you like contemporaries with a mysterious twist. Please be advised: trigger warning for domestic abuse.