Finished February 27
There Was an Old Woman by Hallie Ephron
This suspense novel takes place in the fictional neighborhood of Higgs Point, across the East River and Long Island Sound from Manhattan. Sandra Ferrante, an elderly woman living in the neighborhood is taken out by ambulance, and tells her long-time neighbor Mina to let her daughter know and to "not let him in until I'm gone". Mina doesn't know what she means by that, but she calls Sandra's daughter Ginger to let her know. Ginger has been taking care of her mother when things happen for years, but this time she can't do it, and she calls on her younger sister Evie to do the job. Evie is an historian, working on the last stages of a big project, but she knows it's her turn. When she gets to her mother's house, she finds it so much worse than she imagined. Full of old newspapers and clutter, garbage rotting in bags, empty cat food cans even though her mother has no cats. She can't believe it and wonder how it got so bad so fast.
She starts work on the clean up and the neighbor, Mina, becomes a resource, a confidant, and a friend. Mina is pretty with it, but feeling pressure from her nephew to move to a home before the house gets too much for her. She doesn't want to leave, but when an accident befalls her, she finds things beyond her control.
Evie is used to putting pieces together to make sense of history, and her impulses kick in when things don't seem to match the story she's been given. As she begins to gather information and make a different story come to life, she finds that her efforts may be too late.
This is a story of corruption and greed, of elder abuse and the way we sometimes dismiss people without knowing their story. With interesting history, and characters that have depth, this is a hard book to put down.