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Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki

3 out of 4 stars.

“I have come to realize that dark and odd is not my favorite combo”

Lady Daniels is a whack job. She is mentally unstable, works odd hours writing, and despite her fainting spells hardly eats correctly.  Lucky for her she was given a golden key, Karl, a man who loved her quarks and was wealthy enough to maintain her lifestyle in the Hollywood Hills. They are bringing up their little son, Devin and Lady’s son, Seth, from a previous relationship. Oddly enough, Lady thinks she can find something better than Karl and asks him to move out of the home he purchased. She wants to find time to write so she hires a live-in nanny, S Fowler, to help with Devin. Seth is eighteen so he can take care of himself, although he is a diagnosed mute. A very confusing situation to say the least. Hard to believe it gets more complicated.

S. Fowler turns out to be a whack job as well. She is an artist who has taken on a project to emulate her mother, whom is a noisy and loud alcoholic. At night-time she will go through a bottle of vodka to try to get in the mind-set of her mom in order to paint. Lady is unaware of any of this because S stays in a cottage in the backyard. However, Seth does begin to catch on. His curiosity gets the best of him and he begins to make nightly trips over there.

S. becomes friends with both Lady and Seth, a team of two that has always been exclusive (even after Karl and Devin enter) until S. steps into the picture. The two women each go down their own rabbit holes while trying to hold on to each other. The results are extremely disturbing. The man (or men, if you count Karl and Devin) caught in the middle is Seth who just wants to find his birth father and try to live as normal of a life as you can without speaking and having these crazy people intertwined.

This book was not my cup of tea. I tell myself again and again I do not like darkness. Life is too tough to begin with, why should I cloud it by reading this negativity? It is difficult to find a suspense and mystery tale that is NOT dark nowadays. I believe it has to do with the success of Gillian Flynn.  However, I am still on the lookout. This book was far too graphic at times and made me uncomfortable that a mother of two could be this reckless. S. was similar but at least she had the excuse of being young. Also, the fact that continued to spiral despite some wonderful aspects of her life, made me grossed out.

The actual parts involving Seth and his mysterious ways were interesting and a good learning experience to what it may be like to observe and not act. However, that was only 25 percent of the book. The other 75 percent was sheer ludicrous.  I would encourage my audience to find another book with more substance. This one was just a lot of air swirling fast to make an appearance of substance. Ouch.

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