The Good Neighbor by A.J. Banner

The Good Neighbor by A.J. Banner | Book Review

Title: The Good Neighbor
Author: A.J. Banner
September 2015 by Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Mystery Thriller
How I got the book: I bought it


Shadow Cove, Washington, is the kind of town everyone dreams about—quaint streets, lush forests, good neighbors. That’s what Sarah thinks as she settles into life with her new husband, Dr. Johnny McDonald. But all too soon she discovers an undercurrent of deception. And one October evening when Johnny is away, sudden tragedy destroys Sarah’s happiness.

Dazed and stricken with grief, she and Johnny begin to rebuild their shattered lives. As she picks up the pieces of her broken home, Sarah discovers a shocking secret that forces her to doubt everything she thought was true—about her neighbors, her friends, and even her marriage. With each stunning revelation, Sarah must ask herself, Can we ever really know the ones we love?

My Review:


I’ve been getting into deeper mysteries and getting into thrillers and suspenseful novels lately. This book was bought on a whim when I went to a newly opened bookstore and saw it sitting on the shelf.


Sarah and Johnny are living a good life. They’re fairly close to their neighbors and close to each other, yet they don’t seem to know absolutely everything about each other or their friends. While Johnny is away for business, a fire breaks out at their next door neighbor’s house in the middle of the night. Sarah dives in to save their four-year-old daughter, but the parents don’t make it.

The fire spreads, burning Sarah’s house down. From there, she and Johnny have to rebuild a new life from scratch, discovering secrets about each other and their neighbors along the way.

The plot was well crafted and while it had the typical “wife suspects the husband” cliche, there were plenty of twists and turns along the way. I didn’t know who the culprit was until it was revealed at the very end. It was only then that all the pieces fell into place and I realized that I could have figured it out myself. It was definitely an interesting take on such mysteries.


Each and every character had a purpose. There were minor characters, but even they were there for a reason. I’ve read books where minor characters are there as filler because there, in fact, other people in the world.

I enjoyed all the characters, especially the protagonists. I haven’t said that about a book in a long time. Normally I would find Sarah annoying with her “investigating,” but it was so well written and crafted that I had to agree with her and I found her relatable.


This book was easy to read. The chapters were short, some being only about two or three pages long. It made it for a fast read, but the writing itself made it a fast read anyway because it was just so good.

The scenes and chapters flowed nicely right into the other. It was easy to follow along and other than the obvious, “who dunnit?” question, I didn’t feel stuck or confused at all as I read.

My only complaint was that the ending was a bit abrupt. A chapter ended at the climax and at the beginning of the next chapter it was the aftermath. However, there was no indication of how much time had passed since the incident.


Overall, this was a great read. It was quick, suspenseful, and well written. The characters were likeable and I really cared about everyone. If you love mysteries and thrillers, this is definitely a book to pick up. I’ll be reading more from A.J. Banner now as well.

The Good Neighbor by A.J. Banner gets…
5-Star Rating | Book Review 5 out of 5 stars

Favorite Quote:

“Ironically, her eyes seemed more hidden now behind mascara than they had behind her glasses.” –A.J. Banner, The Good Neighbor

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Skeletons in the Closet by Jennifer L. Hart

Skeletons in the Closet by Jennifer L. Hart book review
Via Goodreads

Title: Skeletons in the Closet (The Misadventures of the Laundry Hag #1)
Author: Jennifer L. Hart
Genre: Cozy Mystery
How I got the book: I downloaded it onto my Kindle

Summary (from Goodreads):

Maggie Phillips hasn’t had it easy. As the wife of retired Navy SEAL, and the adoptive mother of two little hellions, Maggie is constantly looking for ways to improve her family’s financial situation. She accepts a cleaning position for her new neighbors (who redefine the term ‘eccentric’), never imagining she will end up as the sole alibi for a man with a fascination for medieval torture devices when he is brought up on murder charges.

While Maggie struggles to prove the man’s innocence, her deadbeat brother arrives, determined to sell Maggie and Neil on his next great scheme and to mooch with a vengeance. If that isn’t bad enough, her in-laws, (the cut-throat corporate attorneys) descend on the house, armed with disapproval and condemnation, for the family’s annual Thanksgiving celebration.

As the police investigation intensifies, Maggie searches for the killer among the upper echelon of Hudson, Massachusetts in the only way she can— by scrubbing their thrones.

Of the porcelain variety, that is…

My Review:

I bought this book on a whim all thanks to BookBub. The was on sale for free and I love mysteries, so I thought I would give it a shot.

Even though the genre is “cozy” mystery, I thought this storyline moved kind of slow. There was a lot of build-up and background up until almost 100 pages in. Then the murder happened.

Granted, it was all information that needed to be said, but I felt as though the process could have sped up a little.

Maggie, the protagonist, was well written. I loved her sharp wit and sarcastic inner dialogue. I could relate to her well because she and I mostly thought alike. Even her husband was a wonderful character. He was very supportive, even though he didn’t necessarily agree with what she was doing. They had a great relationship with one another.

Maggie’s best friend, Sylvia, was a cool character as well. However, she disappeared halfway through the story and didn’t appear again until later. Even then, she was just kind of mentioned. I didn’t like how her part of the book was over, so she just wasn’t needed anymore. I liked her and wished she was able to pop up more.

The overall plot was interesting. I kept guessing who the culprit might have been, not bothering to suspect their suspect. They’re usually always wrong on their first try with these kinds of books.

The actual culprit came out of left field. Once it was all explained, it made sense, but there was no way anyone could guess who it was. The only reason Maggie herself figured it out was because he had revealed himself and tried to kill her while doing so.

Overall, the characters were fun and the plot was easy to follow. I just would have liked a little bit more plot and less background filler in the beginning.

Skeletons in the Closet by Jennifer L. Hart gets 4 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“I make time in my day to overreact.” –Jennifer L. Hart, Skeletons in the Closet

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