There Was an Old Woman, by Hallie Ephron, is a compelling novel of psychological suspense in which a young woman becomes entangled in a terrifying web of deception and madness involving an elderly neighbor.
When Evie Ferrante learns that her mother has been hospitalized, she finds her mother's house in chaos. Sorting through her mother's belongings, Evie discovers objects that don't quite belong there, and begins to raise questions.
Evie renews a friendship with Mina, an elderly neighbor who might know more about her mother's recent activities, but Mina is having her own set of problems: Her nephew Brian is trying to persuade her to move to a senior care community. As Evie investigates her mother's actions, a darker story of deception and madness involving Mina emerges.
In There Was an Old Woman, award-winning mystery author Hallie Ephron delivers another work of domestic noir with truly unforgettable characters that will keep you riveted.
THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN by Hallie Ephron is a realistic reminder, of how it is “heck” growing old and aging. An intriguing suspense mystery surrounding the lengths some will go for greed, as they prey on the aging.
The story starts out a little slow with the background; however, gains speed the second half when elements start falling into place for a mystery thriller.
The book opens with Mina (90, independent and feisty), as she is reading obituaries, as another one “bites the dust”, and is added to her list. The neighbor tells Mina to call her daughter, Ginger with an encrypted message. Mina calls Ginger, who informs her sister Evie, it is her turn to care for their elderly, alcoholic mother (Sandra). Evie is in the middle of a project but agrees to look after her mom. After leaving the hospital she returns to her mother’s house to find a mess of a hoarder among other strange things.
A series of events occur and some man keeps hanging around wanting to fix things. Evie does not have a good feeling about this man. She learns several of the homes in the neighborhood have been burned, sold, or torn down, as a developer is trying to buy all the properties.
In the meantime, Mina’s nephew wants to move her into an assisted living so he can get his hands on her home. In addition, Mina starts losing papers, leaves stove on, and gets knocked down by a car. Is some trying to setup these elderly, in order to make them think they are losing it?
Evie becomes convinced that Mina’s forgetfulness is not simply due to her age, and Mina’s nephew, who insists that Mina move into a nursing home, may be hiding something. Evie and Mina team up to get to the bottom on this mystery in the neighborhood, triggering the elderly. The two women share more than a neighborhood, but also a past one wants to preserve and the other hopes to forget.
Readers will connect with Mina, and as one of the reviewers mentioned, we all love Grandma Mazur (from Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series), and Mina comes in at a close second!
There are some nice tie in’s—Evie is a fireman's daughter who witnessed a tragic blaze at a young age, she is curating a show for a historical society about the day in 1945 a lost B-25 bomber slammed into the Empire State Building—a crash, as it happens, Mina survived. Told from both Evie's and Mina's perspectives offering a bit of an historical fiction and a light mystery combo.
Listened to the audiobook with narrator, Nan McNamara who has a pleasing voice. Would recommend to readers who enjoy light mysteries, not die hard-heart pounding suspense crime thrillers, as may not be exciting enough to please this audience.