Scott and Elise have left their apartment in New York to stay at Elise’s childhood home for her father’s final days. The old man’s been sick for some time and Elise’s relationship with him isn’t great but he’s not expected to last long in hospice and so she spends her days there with him seeing to his needs. Meanwhile, Scott isn’t working and spends his own time watching the house next door. It’s empty, abandoned for the season, but the lights go on nonetheless. Every night at the same time on the dot. Boredom and obsession take over and Scott eventually breaks into the house, making a discovery that sets the couple on a crash course of bad mistakes and worse decisions.
The Winter Girl is truly twisted psychological suspense sure to please fans of the darkest of dark thrillers.
Scott and Elise have only been married for a few years but already the shine has worn off of the relationship. There’s a sense of unease between the two of them, sitting just beneath the surface. Part of it is the fact that Scott isn’t working. Part of it is the obvious resentment between Scott and Elise’s father. It takes some time for Marinovich to reveal exactly what’s gone on in the couple’s past. They’re otherwise a very normal couple.
When Scott opens up to Elise about what he’s been doing, at first she’s reproachful about his actions. But then she joins in. And then her father comes home.
The book is full of “and then” moments, each of which leads to more revelations about Scott and Elise and the house next door. There was a point when I honestly wondered if it was all some fever dream born out of Scott’s time alone. A tale he’d woven to keep himself amused as time passes by while they wait for Elise’s dad to pass. That’s definitely not the case, though.
This is a book that will draw some very obvious and appropriate comparisons. I’m hesitant to mention them, however, because I think they border on spoilery. It is a very twisted story, one that begins almost innocently and spirals into very dark territory. Readers who would normally shy away from that type of read should probably go into this one prepared. It went places even I didn’t expect.
1/16 Becky LeJeune
THE WINTER GIRL by Matt Marinovich. Doubleday (January 19, 2016). ISBN 978-0385539975. 224p.