Book review: A suicide, obsession and suspect friendships drive ‘You Are Not Alone’

“You Are Not Alone” by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen.

“You Are Not Alone” by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen (St. Martin’s, 352 pages, $27.99).

In just three books, the writing team of Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen have earned a reputation for highly entertaining psychological thrillers about women’s friendships, obsessions and manipulation.

Hendricks, a former editor at Simon & Schuster, and Pekkanen, a former journalist and author under her own name, know how to steer their novels to maximum effect with myriad twists. Although their method doesn’t leave room for much character development, the energetic plots are tight and so inviting that each of their efforts have landed on the New York Times Best Sellers List.

Shay Miller drifts through life, eking out a living as a temp worker and sharing an apartment with a male friend on whom she has a crush but who is dating another woman. A market researcher obsessed with statistics, Shay was downsized from her full-time job and lost her apartment when she discovered that her boyfriend cheating on her. Shay has little prospects and feels she’s “caught in a slow spiral.”

Her life changes when she watches in horror as Amanda Evinger throws herself in front of a Manhattan subway train. Although they were strangers, Shay becomes obsessed with Amanda, wanting to know everything about the deceased woman and what led her to commit suicide. Shay finds out where Amanda lived and shows up at her memorial service.

Glamorous sisters Jane and Cassandra Moore are quite interested in Shay and what relationship she may have had with Amanda. The Moore sisters have a tight circle of women who administer their own brand of vigilante justice on those who may have wronged one member of the group. They can’t believe that Shay and Amanda had never met.

Shay is thrilled with the Moore sisters and their friends, who become her new best friends, giving her a new attitude toward life and believing in herself again. The sisters, and their friends, feel differently and see Shay as another target.

While the authors’ debut “The Wife Between Us” was a stronger effort, “You Are Not Alone” thrives on its twists and realistic tension. The solid plot overrides the deficiencies in characterization.