Greenwich Park – Katherine Faulkner

Greenwich Park is a story that, in a blurb could sound like a fairly common suspense story. It is anything but common. Faulkner is a gifted writer and a master plotter. It take place in upscale Greenwich England. Helen, pregnant for the fifth time after four miscarriages, is ending her job and starting prenatal classes. Serena, Helen, Daniel and Rory have been connected as friends for over ten years. They went to Cambridge together and the couples are still friends.. Daniel, Helen’s husband, has to miss their first prenatal class because of a work emergency. This is not a total surprise. Daniel is partners with Helen’s brother Rory in an architectural firm founded by her father. Rory is not carrying his weight so Daniel is working nonstop. Rory’s wife, Serena, also pregnant, texts Helen to say she’s chosen a different class to attend that’s more her style. Helen, shy and worried about her health and the viability of this pregnancy is on her own. All the other attendees are couples, until Rachel comes in. Rachel defies all the rules of pregnancy, drinking wine at the class. She promptly attaches herself to Helen. Suddenly, everywhere Helen goes, there is Rachel. Daniel has designed a below ground addition to Helen’s childhood historic home since the interior walls in the existing structure can’t be changed. They are living there during the remodeling. So there is dust, noise, fear the pregnancy will fail, too much time alone, and the rather “off” Rachel in the picture for Helen. Helen and Rory’s younger brother Charlie skipped University and is a DJ. He is reunited in a relationship with Katie, a good friend of Helen’s.

The structure of Greenwich Park is quite original and it works. It starts with an afterward, then proceeds consistently through Helen’s pregnancy starting with the 24th week and marking each subsequent week. It changes narrators and therefore perspectives among Helen, Serena and Katie but also includes present day interludes in the voice of one or more unknown narrators. Where needed, there are flashbacks to events from ten years earlier. We know right away that someone has written to Helen from jail. So, something bad enough to put someone in jail will happen in this book and Helen did not do it … maybe. Meanwhile, the characters develop through the perspectives of the multiple narrators from somewhat fixed descriptions to more complex people, each likable in some ways and flawed in some ways. And then there is Rachel, who does not fit into the picture, yet is in the picture. I have read thousands of mysteries. I have never read one that so deftly makes every character a suspect before we even know what happens to put someone in jail. It’s like a choose your own adventure story, where you find yourself guessing what bad thing is going to happen and who wrote the afterward from jail and there are tons of plausible endings. I may well reread this just to enjoy the way it is put together a second time. Very, very, very worth your while!!

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