Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: October 2002
Source/Format: Library book!
Page Count: 374
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Mel Fuller doesn't live a very interesting life. She is newly single after her bastard ex-boyfriend cheats on her with a colleague while covering a story overseas, and she is consistently late to her job as a columnist for a New York City newspaper. Things get a little more interesting though when her neighbor, a rich old woman, is attacked--just next door! Eager to jump at an excuse to continue being late to her job, she takes on the responsibility of walking the old woman's dog while she is in a comatose state at the hospital. When that becomes too much, Mel reaches out to her neighbors only living relative Max. Max is a womanizing, famous photographer who is facing the end of his career, and tells Mel he'll be right over to take care of the dog. But when he arrives, the Max who is now living next door doesn't seem like the high-power fashion photographer she expected, which leads Mel to believe that he is not who he says he is, and discovers there is a bigger story in the attack of her neighbor than she expected.
The Boy Next Door is told in e-mails written from character to character, which is a risk. Cabot was able to inject each of her characters with a strong voice. When I first started reading the novel, it took me a couple of pages to get used to the form. Once I got used to the character's voices, it became easier to differentiate one person from the next. What was gained in voice, was lost in setting and character description. The voices of each character alluded to the type of person they were, but the reader never fully gets to see what each one looks like. Place is only described in generic terms such as 'cubicles' and 'tiny apartment,' and we never get to see the space Cabot's characters inhibit.
This book was loaded with dramatic irony, which kept me hooked on every page. While Mel is trying to figure out just what is going on, we are able to see clues as other character's interact with each other away from Mel. It was full of suspense, and I inhaled this book just waiting for Mel to catch up. It made for a fun, engaging read.
The Boy Next Door lacked description and a sense of place, but the strong character voices and suspense made for a fast and entertaining reading experience.
Rating: 3 / 5