A Good Marriage

Kimberly McCreight

A complex murder mystery grips upper middle-class parents relishing freedom while their children are away at summer camp.

The unraveling of the crime behind this story is skillfully managed through two primary channels. A first-person narrative from the attorney drawn into the mess starts just after the crime, and a third-person narrative from the victim’s POV leads up to the crime. In addition, McCreight weaves in bits from grand-jury transcripts and a cybersecurity consultant’s progress updates.

The story cruises along in second gear for quite a while, revealing key pieces of the victim’s past, events prior to the crime and the attorney’s evolving understanding. There are dead ends. The resolution comes into focus in the final chapters, when we get an account of the murder itself. A lot of things fall into place, which is customary for murder stories.

The conclusion is well-fitted to the story. The legal-criminal aspects of the story are 100% credible, as is the depiction of this particular slice of modern Americana. If you have any interest in upscale Brooklyn, you’ll likely enjoy this book.

There is a homogeneity to this: all White (I think), mostly middle-aged, parents of kids attending a tony private school in the Parkslope neighborhood of Brooklyn. There’s a liberal sprinkling of titillation: a sex party (sorry, voyeurs, no details), domestic abuse, stalkers, really bad husbands, an out-of-control alcoholic.

And McCreight does a good job giving depth to her characters, especially the first-person attorney. And there’s a compelling twist to the victim’s story. The prose is straightforward, pitching the reader along. If you have time on your hands, you can finish this 390-page book in a long weekend.

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