The Boy at the Door by Alex Dahl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
”The ladies at the tennis club will whisper frenziedly behind my back, and this little town will doubtlessly be rocked by the scandal of it all; after all, it is no little feat to single-handedly bring junkies, drug abuse, abandoned children, and murder to a small, wealthy town in Norway.”
Cecilia Wilborg has the seemingly perfect life with a loving husband, two beautiful, suitably bratty daughters, a distinctive, ostentatious, bronze Range Rover, and a palatial home that reeks of disposable income. Cecilia doesn’t have to work, but she does dabble at interior designing, which she happens to be good at, but the job is just a way for her to check another box that shows all the other women in her social group that she can really do it all.
Her life is a facade, but you aren’t going to want to read this book for the image Cecilia portrays. As well lit as the exterior will be, what you will want to do is open the door that leads to the empty frame behind the storefront and see what resides in the darkness behind the glamour. The smoke and mirrors. The mistake that could bring her whole glittering life down into a jagged pile of lies and endless deceits has crept out of the darkness.
It all begins, innocently enough, with a boy left at a pool. Cecilia is asked to give the boy a ride home, and through gritted teeth, charity does not come easily to Cecilia, she does just that. The problem is there is no home, nothing but a dusty abandoned house that couldn’t possibly be a proper home for a child.
So now the boy at the pool is the boy at her door.
This convergence of ”a sexy Scandi gym-bunny fashionista” and Tobias, the dusky, seemingly orphaned child, has another life line bisecting with theirs, and her name is Annika Lucasson.
She is an unrepentant junkie. She will do anything for smack. Line the men up and let them have their way as long as there is the warm embrace of a hit of smack at the end of that line. ”If only you could get clean seems to be the consensus of every teacher, doctor, therapist, social worker I’ve ever met. They just don’t get it. I don’t want to get clean, never have. Smack is the only friend I have, even if it is a friend that wants to kill me and will most likely succeed.”
Cecilia has a well developed, muscular, feral instinct for survival, and as one stack of half truths collapses, she is deftly assembling a whole new web of tangled deceptions. She will do whatever it takes to hang onto the life she has created.
”What Cecilia wants, Cecilia gets.”
Who is Annika? Who is Tobias? For that matter, who is Cecilia?
Cecilia Wilborg is the type of woman I want absolutely nothing to do with. People who have too much money and view the world from the most shallow of all perspectives leave a large environmental footprint that the rest of us have to navigate around. They take up too much space, use too many resources, and feel entitled to all of it because they can afford to buy anything and everything they desire. In my opinion, it is good to wish for something. To have to wait to obtain something. To not have every impulsive want fulfilled immediately.
I have so little in common with Cecilia that I can’t even imagine having a conversation with her, never mind reading a whole book about her. Despite my misgivings, I could not put this book down. I was flabbergasted, annoyed, manipulated, terrified, and most oddly enough...sympathetic.
This is the most unusual book I’ve read that falls into my Nordic Noir category. You are probably not going to like Cecilia, and no one will be able to deny that her human fallacies may be more abundant than normal, but I think we can all relate to our own fear that our own weaknesses can destroy us at any time. Think of the one mistake, seemingly buried in your past, that can be the bomb strapped to the underpinnings of your present life. Cecelia’s fuse is lit.
I want to thank Elisha Katz and the Berkley Publishing Group for providing me with a free ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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