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CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
by Hallie Ephron
William Morrow, August 2019
304 pages
$26.99
ISBN: 0062473654


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Putting an avid collector and an organizing expert in the same house sounds like a recipe for disaster, but Emily and Frank Harlow have figured out how to make their marriage work. He stores his yard sale finds in the basement and attic, and she keeps the rest of the house clutter free. Emily and her friend Becca even start a business to help others sort through possessions to clear space and spark joy, but they make it a rule that they will only declutter the client's possessions, not a spouse's, since what has worked for Emily and Frank seems to be the best practice for the business, too. But Becca and Emily soon find that find that clearing clutter even in the most sensitive way can upend expectations and reveal secrets that might be best left hidden. When one of the secrets they uncover is a dead man, Emily begins to question everything she knows about her clients, friends, and family and finds herself struggling to stay out of jail and avoid becoming the next victim.

CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR begins as a fun play on a current trend, but Hallie Ephron quickly moves into creating an interesting world where folding socks and cleaning out storage units leads to believable and nicely convoluted crimes. Her relatively small cast of characters is also made up of compelling people in understandable situations. Emily is easy to root for as she tries to balance her preferences and her husband's and keep the lines between personal and professional relationships with her clients firmly drawn. When some of those hard lines become a little fuzzy, the slips are entirely believable. Even as random events lead to Emily's discovery of a body and her increasing involvement in a murder, with the coincidences nicely pointing to Emily as the prime suspect, nothing seems out of place or out of character. But as the coincidences Ephron concocts begin to add up for Emily, they do for the reader at about the same pace, and it becomes clear to everyone that something is badly amiss.

The reader may get to the solution a little ahead of Emily, but Ephron keeps two crime plots going, so there are plenty of surprises, and everything comes together satisfyingly at the end. Overall, CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR is a quick read with plenty of suspense made more fun by its exploration of a current cultural phenomenon.

Meredith Frazier, a writer with a background in English literature, lives in Dallas, Texas

Reviewed by Meredith Frazier, July 2019

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