You Should Have Known
By: Rebecca Keller
Narrator: Petrea Burchard
Publisher: Crooked Lane
Publication Date: 04/04/2023
My Rating: 5 Stars 🎧
When retired nurse Frannie Greene moves into a senior living apartment, she finds a compelling friendship with her new neighbor Katherine—only to discover that Katherine is married to the judge Frannie believes is implicated in the death of her beloved granddaughter.
Observing the medication cart sparks Frannie’s darkest imagination, and her desire for revenge combines with her medical expertise. In one dreadful, impulsive moment, she tampers with the medicine. However, the next day, someone is dead, and Frannie realizes the gravity of what she’s done.
The police get involved, and suspicions gather around someone Frannie knows to be innocent. Wracked with remorse, Frannie’s anxiety becomes unbearable. As she works to make it right, she discovers that things are more complicated than they seem.
She’s spent years aching for accountability from people in power. Is she the one who now needs to be held culpable? What really happened that night?
Rebecca Keller's impressive debut, YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN is an unputdownable twisty mystery suspense of one grandmother's obsession for justice—while crossing moral lines.
AUDIOBOOK: 🎧 I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator, Petrea Burchard, was outstanding! She was soothing and offered a perfect voice for Frannie for an engaging listening experience. She reminds me of a cross between Elizabeth Berg and Cassandra Campbell. She made the book! I will be looking for more audiobooks by this narrator. I loved it so much that I purchased the e-book, and glad I did to read the Author's note and reading guide.
Meet grandmother Frannie Greene in her early 70s. She is lovely; her husband, Cal, passed on six years earlier. However, recently she has taken a nasty fall and needs assistance. She lives alone in a condo they purchased after selling their house. Her son and daughter want her to move to an assisted living facility.
She wants to live independently but finally agrees, having little choice. She has a true friend Ruthie that she writes to.
The Ridgewood Senior Apartments is her new home; she is reminded that the people there are residents, not patients. Each has an apartment and can live independently, but services are readily available for those needing them.
Frannie was a nurse and went to med school, but she got pregnant years ago. She is not thrilled with the activities, socializing, or nosy people. But her son and daughter encourage her to get involved and meet new friends. Frannie is smart, intelligent, and funny.
Their family had experienced a tragedy that had left them with many scars. Her daughter, Iris' daughter (her granddaughter) Bethany, was killed in a horrible car crash.
There was a lot of hurt, anger, rage, and resentment regarding this accident after the Judge had let off the drunk driver. The man was back on the streets again and was responsible for killing her granddaughter. There was a massive scandal. She blames the Judge and has wanted revenge since the accident. Lawyers had power, and power corrupts.
Iris was in a bad way, and she worried about her mental health. She had been the one driving and suffered much guilt and grief. She had pushed them all away, including her husband, Jimmy, her friends, Charlie, and her.
Charlie, her son, is married to Pam, and they have two sons, Adam and Danny. Frannie loves her grandchildren, but her grown children want her to enjoy her life and her new living arrangement and encourage her to get involved with people her age, even though she has to use a walker and wants to remain independent as long as possible.
However, she gives it a try, and after a few weeks at the new facility, she meets the staff and a lovely lady, Katherine. They develop a friendship and bond over books, pie, and Young and the Restless. She joins a book club, and they visit the in-house library often.
Katherine was a former interior designer and then met Nathaniel. Katherine became a stepmother to Nathaniel's daughter, Lisa. Frannie is not wild about Nathaniel since he appears entitled, very controlling, and jealous of things she picks up from Katherine.
When Katherine finally meets Nathaniel, she is SHOCKED!
She knows this evil man. He is the man responsible for her granddaughter's death. He was the corrupt Judge! Bethany would still be alive if the drunk driver had been jailed after the first offense.
Two lawyers had finally gone to prison. The scandal had been going on for years— prosecutors and defense lawyers bribing clerks to get certain judges, then paying those judges to ensure leniency. Although Judge Nathaniel Karney and a prosecutor were charged with accepting bribes to let Stinson and other drunk drivers off easy, the charges were dropped because the evidence was insufficient.
Does this wonderful lady, Katherine know how evil her husband is? Is she aware of his business? She cannot let on to Katherine she is aware of her evil monster judge husband. However, the more she thinks about it, the more she knows she must find a way to make him pay.
She thinks of an idea when she sees the medicine cart in the hallway. She can get justice. She will take matters into her own hands. She cannot tell anyone her plan. How could Katherine be married to a person like this? He was corrupt.
She can switch out the meds. Since she is a former nurse and knows medications, she has some of Cal's old pills- the same as Nathaniel takes and can make the dosage stronger. She can switch out his meds.
This was nerve-wracking! The tension builds as Frannie puts her plan in motion. But things do not go as planned.
Someone winds up dead she learns the next day, but it is NOT Nathaniel!
What has she done? How can she live with herself? She thinks she is as bad as the Judge. No one can find out about what she has done. Should she go to the cops to confess? Remorse, guilt, disgust. She grapples with good vs. evil. What had she become?
She thinks back to the letter that Katherine slipped under her door. About Katherine saying what a good person she was. Was there a hidden meaning in the note?
Also, Frannie cannot let Iris see this man. She will recognize him and vice versa. She will have to relive this entire tragedy over again.
In the meantime, there is another resident, Evan. His brother-in-law was a cop, and he tells his story. Does he know what she did? He knows her connection to the Judge. He knows about the drunk driver, the lawyers, and the Judge. He knows that the Judge got off and was never brought to justice. He had been investigating the crooked attorneys and how they almost got Kearney. He had even helped put one of the lawyers away. But did he mess with the evidence?
Did he try to get justice same as her? Is he on her side? Can she come clean with him?
Guilt-ridden, Francie is worried about what she has done; she digs deeper. The poor woman, Graciela, who was in charge of the meds, has gotten into trouble. She may be deported. She must help her and learn more about what happened.
Things are not as they seem.
So what really happened? So many emotions.
I loved this book and the satisfying conclusion. Brilliant!
The author spins a highly realistic creative tale with highly relatable characters in this suspenseful story of how good people can be tempted to do bad things. A cautionary tale about taking matters to achieve justice into our own hands.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I enjoyed the Author's note and reader's guide. YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN is an ideal book club pick. The author expressed she set out to write a morally complex story about a good person who had succumbed to their worst impulse. What prompts someone to stray from the straight and narrow? What if they were convinced justice was on their side?
Indeed, she exceeded all expectations!
I loved the relationship between the two women, their friendship, the topics of justice, revenge, and complicity, and how they intertwined with her religious beliefs. She also explored status, hierarchies, and class.
Also, as the author references, Ridgewood is almost a character in itself. I lived in a similar environment for five years. There is a wealth of information for a book within this generation of seniors living in one hi-rise with many exciting stories and pasts.
I resonated with this story so much since I am in this age range. My grown sons are far away in another state. As you get older living alone you worry about falls and having to one day give up your independence. I once lived in a senior high rise downtown for 62 and over and hated it. I finally moved and decided I could not handle all the nosy old people that were depressing. Now I live in an all-age community with much more privacy.
I felt for Frannie and was glued to the audiobook as I could not wait to see how the story would unravel. I loved Frannie and Evan! What well-developed characters.
I thoroughly enjoyed the author's writing style, which reminds me of a cross between Elizabeth Berg and Catherine Ryan Hyde (two favorites). This book is for those who enjoy suspense, mystery, women sleuthing, humanity, humor, superb writing, and family dramas with wise life lessons. The author explores the bonds of family and the grudges we refuse to let go.
The author has been added to my favorite author list and I cannot wait to see what comes next! Highly Recommend!
@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks
Pub Date: April 4, 2023
My Rating: 5 Stars +
“Nicely observed . . . carefully crafted plot.” —Publishers Weekly
“Who cares about the gentle death of an elderly woman in a retirement community? You will—desperately—as you dive into the marvelous mystery at the heart of You Should Have Known. This book kept me up past my bedtime, frantically turning pages, shocked and delighted by each new twist.”
—Abby Geni, award-winning author of The Lightkeepers
“Unputdownable! This plot is so beautifully crafted! Never underestimate an elderly lady . . .”
—Helene Tursten, author of An Elderly Lady Must Not be Crossed
“This book winds and uncoils like a spring. Keenly observed, bittersweet and wise—like getting coffee with a lifelong friend. You should be reading!”
—Eliza Nellums, author of All That’s Bright and Gone and The Bone Cay
“You Should Have Known is a terrific debut mystery—yet it's also a thoughtful story about the indignities of aging in the face of greater wisdom and deeply held regrets. Readers will fall in love with Frannie Greene and root for her to heal from an unimaginable family tragedy.”
—Lynne Reeves, author of Dark Rivers to Cross
About the Author
Rebecca Keller is a writer, an internationally exhibited artist, a college professor, a Fulbright Scholar, and recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Arts.
But once upon a time she was a house-cleaner, shuttle driver, waitress, and nursing home cook. She got a graduate degree to improve her lot, and ended up working in museums, where she wrote about art and gave tours, making her own work at night. She had children. She began teaching at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She was awarded a Fulbright. She did a TEDx talk.
And she began writing fiction. Her stories have been nominated for a Pushcart prize, and her debut novel "You Should Have Known" will be released from Crooked Lane Books in 2023. She is now working on stories about art and another novel. WEBSITE
Learn more about her artworks here: https://rebeccakeller.net/home.html