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The Deadly Neighbors    by Merry Jones order for
Deadly Neighbors
by Merry Jones
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

After years of estrangement from her father but having heard some concerns about his health from one of his neighbors, Zoe Hayes decides it's finally unavoidable: she must put aside all hostilities (petty and profound), at least in a temporary truce, and she must visit her father to find out if he is, in fact, having serious problems.

So, taking her six-year-old daughter with her, Zoe arrives at her father's house and stumbles into a horrifying scene: Beatrice Kendall - another of Zoe's father's neighbors - lies dead in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor; her throat has been cut, and Zoe's father - with a bloody knife in his hand - sits next to the dead woman.

When the police are summoned, Zoe's father is taken into custody and is immediately sent to a nearby hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. Relying upon the support of her fiancÚ Nick Stiles - a homicide detective for the Philadelphia police department - and turning to her best friend (and good lawyer) Susan Cummings for friendship and advice, Zoe tries to make sense of whatever her father must have done to Beatrice Kendall.

Meanwhile, Zoe's job as a therapist is in jeopardy at the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute, her four-month pregnancy is becoming problematic, and she is haunted by a family history complicated by secrets and lost memories (so she is receiving what she believes will be helpful therapy from a colleague who hypnotizes Zoe).

Then - quicker than you can say erratic behavior - Zoe's father, a compulsive liar and gambler, repeatedly slips out of the hospital and returns to his home because of problems in the neighborhood - if Zoe's father is to be believed.

But Zoe soon finds herself inextricably drawn into a pulse-pounding, death-defying nightmare involving her father, his neighbors, and a swiftly rising mortality rate among those living in the neighborhood.

As a follow-up to the previous Zoe Hayes thrillers (The Nanny Murders and The River Killings), The Deadly Neighbors is overflowing with fast-paced intrigue and excitement. Author Merry Jones has another thumbs-up winner on her hands, and - upon finishing The Deadly Neighbors - readers almost certainly may begin to wonder (and worry) about their own cozy neighborhoods. After all, how well do you really know what your neighbors are up to in the presumed privacy of their own homes? Just as Zoe Hayes discovers, it is sometimes impossible to trust appearances (as they are deceiving), and there may be significantly more going on than meets the eye. And it might be horrible!

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