"Good Bad Girl" by Alice Feeney. TNS
Now that the residents of Buckingham Palace have changed, maybe it's time for the Queen of Twists to abdicate.
Alice Feeney, anointed with that title because she's so willing to keep reinventing her plots that you're sometimes not even certain what book you're reading, is back with "Good Bad Girl." Yes, there are twists — some good and some so credibility-straining that they may not have been worth the effort required to concoct them.
At her best — as in her debut "Sometimes I Lie," whose (comatose) narrator fibs to us, and in "His & Hers," where two narrators compete to see who can conceal the truth more effectively — Feeney is a lot of fun. Her characters are vivid, the setups are ingenious and the solutions, while not always strictly possible to figure out on our own, are entertaining in an "OK-you-got-me" way.
Feeney at her worst is represented by last year's "Daisy Darker," which asked us not only to believe that every member of a screwed-up family had what it takes to be an inventive serial killer but also that they lingered over crowded crime scenes long enough to scrawl out poems that revealed their inner workings — in rhymed couplets. Nay, I say.
"Daisy Darker" felt like a knockoff of Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None," so it's gratifying to find Feeney back on firmer ground with "Good Bad Girl," which benefits from its relatable bonds between several mothers and daughters. Nursing home resident Edith doesn't get along with daughter Clio, for murky reasons that date back decades. Clio and Frankie both mourn the losses of their daughters, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. And the less spoiled about Patience, who is Edith's friend and caregiver, the better — but if you want to go ahead and assume she has mommy issues, please feel free.
Tribune News Service
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