Review: Best Intentions by Emily Listfield

intentions1Title: Best Intentions

Author: Emily Listfield

Genre/Pages:Fiction, Suspense/352 pages

Publication: Atria; May 5, 2009

Rating: 3.5 BOOKMARKS


Blending a well-written novel with a suspenseful mystery, Emily Listfield finds success with Best Intentions.

Could this be the dawning of a new subgenre–quality women’s lit meets suspense novel?  All I can say is Listfield writes some terrific prose while spinning a suspenseful, red-herring laden story that kept me guessing until the end!

The novel focuses on four adults with an intertwined and long history–Sam and Lisa, college sweethearts who are now married with two children, and Deirdre and Jack who had a passionate and thrilling relationship in college but went their separate ways soon after–but did they miss their one chance at true love?  Jack later marries another woman, but as the story starts, he’s coming to New York City for a reunion with his two friends and old flame.

Sam’s fidelity is immediately called into question with late-night phone calls and white lies.  Deirdre pulls away from Lisa, avoiding calls and skipping their weekly breakfasts.  Jack makes several return trips to New York City (from Boston) to interview with a mysterious company.  Who can we trust?

Simultaneously, several subplots develop.  Lisa’s involvement on a fund raising committee at her daughters’ tony private school exposes her anxiety and feelings of insecurity; Sam’s frustration and desperation ratchet up as he doggedly pursues leads in an attempt to write  another successful exposé on a Corporate America scion; Deirdre’s on-again, off-again relationship with the brooding and artistic Ben, a famous photographer who pushes their physical relationship to the borderline  of violence.  When Lisa’s job is threatened during a merger, things take an even dicier turn as she begins to take help from a dark and mysterious stranger who makes Lisa feel beautiful and protected, something Sam hasn’t done for years.   

Add to all this a murder and a race to find the killer.  No character is safe from the suspicious eyes two NYC detectives.  A riveting read with excellent use of foreshadowing and suspense, I was anxious to find out whodunit–and fast!  

Despite the fact that Listfield created some terrific imagery in respect to New York City and the other characters, I had difficulty cobbling together a physical description of Lisa.  Listfield’s spare usage of physical characterization for her–p. 9 we learn she has an olive complexion, p. 15 describes her ‘shoulder-length hair…thick, dark waves…’, p. 33 tells of her ‘hourglass…figure’–left me with a hazy image of a brunette protagonist.  As the story goes on, we get a few more nuggets, but I felt like a detective trying to glean clues. 

That minor quibble aside, this book was a great read and I enjoyed it thoroughly!  Quality writing, credible characters, and a solid story make Best Intentions a novel to add to your TBR pile! 

Thanks to Lauren for the review copy!

9 responses to “Review: Best Intentions by Emily Listfield

  1. I like the sound of this. Suspense and romance going hand in hand. Your right – not a normal combination.

  2. This sounds good to me because I love women’s fictions and mysteries. I’m also interested in New York since I just visited there!

  3. And YOU write a suspenseful, thrilling, fast-paced review! Now I have to read this, too.

  4. I read it and enjoyed it too; I really loved the writing and how credible the whole story and characters were. Lisa’s physical description isn’t something that bothered me though, I didn’t notice how few the details were! Did you note the same thing for other characters too?

  5. I read and reviewed this book recently and I think your thoughts are spot on. I never thought too much about physical descriptions … I kind of create my own image anyway so I didn’t even think of that. Mostly I liked the details of her life. I had an interview with her on my blog if you are interested in it.

  6. I really liked this one, too! Definitely a fast and interesting read, though I would have liked Lisa to take a step back and just breathe every now and then. Everything was so manic, I was really caught up in all the drama, too!

  7. I was definitely kept guessing on the whodunit all the way to the end, too! I enjoyed your review, so I linked to you here.

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