reviewed by Sandra Hoover
Two lives running a parallel course finally collide in this debut domestic thriller by Nora Murphy. Two educated, professional women both trapped in a life with men they no longer recognize or trust.
Two women who fear the consequences of trying to escape their abusive marriages more than they fear continuing to live with the pain, threats and isolation. Two women who’ve never met until the day fate steps in, leaving them reeling – free on one hand, but just as trapped on another.
The Favor is an intense, gripping domestic thriller that explores the lives of two women struggling in abusive, controlling relationships. Neither can believe they’ve let the man they married manipulate them into a life of isolation, pain, fear and shame. Both women are, or were, professionals who loved their jobs – one a doctor and the other a lawyer. And yet both highly educated women end up forced out of their jobs by the underhanded manipulation of their husbands under the guise of providing for them. Both are at the end of their rope – afraid to make a run for it or tell anyone. When their paths cross in a checkout line while purchasing alcohol, one woman recognizes the signs of domestic violence in the face of the other. Why? Because she recognizes herself. She makes a split-second decision to follow the other woman home and is stunned to learn they are living parallel lives including spousal abuse. While the one wife doesn’t think she can find a safe way out herself, she decides then and there to help the other woman get out. Little does she know she’s opened Pandora’s Box when she moves from watching to take action. Events quickly spiral out of control and soon both their worlds come crashing down.
There’s no way to share more details of this story without revealing spoilers. I found my heart racing as I stood in the shadows with Leah watching McKenna cowl down before her husband as he berates her. I could smell the fear, the hopelessness, the pain. Readers are privy to both women’s fear as the author’s use of alternating points of view makes the nightmares they’re each living all too real. The fear escalates when their picture perfect husbands arrive home and both wives are wondering what they will do to set the men off this time. Dinner overcooked? Or late? House not clean enough? What excuse will he have for abusing her this time?
Murphy does an excellent job shattering society’s preconceived notion of what occurs behind closed doors in upper income homes where perfect men come home to perfect wives each night, and she does so by revealing the often-hidden domestic abuse that resides within. By allowing readers behind the scenes, she educates them on the fact that upper income professionals can get caught in abusive relationships and find it just as difficult to escape as an uneducated woman from the poor side of town. Murphy’s expertise as a lawyer who has worked domestic abuse cases gives this story an authentic air and the end result is a believable if horrifying story of how far a woman may be pushed before seeking a way out . . . and what drastic measures she’ll take to get out.
The Favor is a raw, gripping, intense story that I found hard to put down. I was drawn in by the dangerous vibes that permeated each page as the well-plotted story progressed. A dark, ominous tone sets the stage for pending disaster. While there are a couple of elements in this story that didn’t resonate with me, it’s so well executed that I brushed them off and burned pages until the end. Fans of domestic suspense books, this one is for you! Also recommended to fans of suspense thrillers.
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