The Housemaid by Freida McFadden [3/10]

Sales success in any fiction genre seems to sprout dozens of copycat novels with similarly pitched covers. The domestic mystery/thriller, exploring a family’s twisted interactions with an interloper, is a favored trope, and “The Housemaid” both rings true to its sub-genre and, alas, fails badly at the basics of storytelling. When a young woman with a mysterious past joins a household as a live-in maid, the seemingly frayed wife and seemingly perfect husband come under the microscope. The signals about “unseen depths” are so strong that this reader was surprised not at all at the early twists, the mid-novel twists, and the final twists. Written in that breathless, close-up, first-person style that works only when wielded with skill and a distinctive voice, The Housemaid is a messy yawn from start to finish.

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