Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty
I was relatively late to the party with Liane Moriarty. I’m embarrassed to admit that I was basically bullied into reading her by a workmate who correctly interpreted my rolling eyes as literary snobbery, and insisted that I was badly underestimating one of Australia’s most successful authors. I’m so glad they persisted, because I have since discovered Moriarty’s books are consistently well written, clever, witty, compulsively readable and honestly so much fun. With the pandemic, and the lockdowns, and all the terrible things happening in the world, Apples Never Fall could not have come at a better time.
Sixty-nine-year-old Joy Delaney is a retired mother of four, a frustrated would- be grandmother, an aspiring memoir writer – and missing. A week earlier, she sent her children an unintelligible text message and then vanished. While her children try to piece together the mystery of her disappearance (while dealing with their own respective domestic crises), the police have begun narrowing in on Joy’s husband of 50 years. Is it possible their seemingly blissful marriage held some dark secrets?
A Liane Moriarty book is a masterclass in suspense, and Apples Never Fall does not disappoint. Split across multiple points-of-view and timelines, the story remains tightly controlled, building to a crescendo as Joy’s fate is revealed. Via a clever narrative device, readers experience much of the story’s action through the eyes of curious bystanders: overheard conversations, salon gossip and peeks behind twitching curtains. You can’t help but read this entertaining work of domestic noir with voyeuristic glee.
As with all of Moriarty’s books, Apples Never Fall offers a perfect balance between light and dark; a nuanced portrayal of people you could swear were based on someone you know; and a story that will keep you turning pages well past your bedtime. If you’re already a fan, you’re in for a treat. If you’re yet to discover Moriarty’s particular brand of subversive suburban suspense, then let me bully you into it.