There Was an Old Woman

( 16 )

Overview

"Don't let him in until I'm gone."

That's what Evie's mother whispers as the EMTs are whisking her away to the hospital.

When Evie arrives to look after the house in her mother's absence, she's shocked to find the place in terrible disrepair. While she cleans and organizes, she makes puzzling discoveries: expensive liquor that's not her mother's brand, a new flat-screen TV on the wall. Where is the money coming from?

Evie will find an unlikely ...

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Overview

"Don't let him in until I'm gone."

That's what Evie's mother whispers as the EMTs are whisking her away to the hospital.

When Evie arrives to look after the house in her mother's absence, she's shocked to find the place in terrible disrepair. While she cleans and organizes, she makes puzzling discoveries: expensive liquor that's not her mother's brand, a new flat-screen TV on the wall. Where is the money coming from?

Evie will find an unlikely ally in Mina Yetner, her mother's ninety-year-old neighbor, who has noticed mysterious changes to the neighborhood herself. As the two women dig deeper into the past few months of Evie's mother's life, a larger, more sinister picture begins to emerge.

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Editorial Reviews

Washington Post
“A New York suspense story set in an extraordinary outer-borough neighborhood that will stay with readers . . . For those who love Gotham and abhor gore, THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN is the perfect thriller lite.”
Booklist
“Enjoy [There Was an Old Woman]...for the characterizations--particularly of Mina, still sharp in her tenth decade--and the nicely detailed sense of place.”
Boston Globe
“Ephron’s novels are gripping because her characters are just real and nuanced enough to identify with. Ultimately, it’s compassion that makes us stay up late reading and, nose in book, miss our subway stop the next morning.”
Lansing State Journal
“Intensive, sustaining suspense . . . Ephron ratchets up the suspense by using short chapters and strong characterization, deftly capturing the instability and plight of the elderly. . . A dark, captivating and deliciously creepy tale that’s liable to keep you reading all night long.”
Winnipeg Free Press
“A tightly wrought, expertly written and frighteningly real suspense thriller that will keep you turning pages . . . There is a depth to [Ephron’s] characters that is reminiscent of Ruth Rendell’s probing, often painful characterizations.”
Ellery Queen
“Ephron delivers a suspenseful punch that kept me up all night reading...A cleverly plotted, well-orchestrated, and thoroughly engaging novel.”
Jacquelyn Mitchard
“Hallie Ephron’s newest is that thing you almost never see—an utterly fresh story. Evie and her crew will keep you guessing and hoping and teetering between laughter and tears, all the way home.”
Tess Gerritsen
“Superb suspense and unforgettable characters make this an absolute must-read. THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN is so good, I devoured this in one ravenous gulp!”
Julia Spencer-Fleming
“Hallie Ephron hits a grand slam with this suspenseful tale of long-held secrets, family foibles and human frailty . . . Her smooth prose paints colorful characters then slowly tightens its grip on your throat until you simply can’t put THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN down. A stellar novel.”
Deborah Crombie
“Hallie Epron has an extraordinary talent for imbuing the ordinary with menace, and for creating wonderful, memorable characters. Mina, the old woman of the title, shines. This is Ephron’s best book yet, and readers won’t be able to put it down.”
Hank Phillippi Ryan
“Haunting. Compelling. And beautifully written. This insidiously creepy and eerily sinister tale twists and turns with suspense-and a surprise around every corner. Hallie Ephron is the queen of secrets-and the star of suburban noir.”
The Times News
There Was an Old Woman is a well-crafted thriller with compelling characters, an entertaining story and just the right amount of suspense...[It] will certainly keep you riveted from the first page to the last.
The Washington Post - Maureen Corrigan
…a New York suspense story set in an extraordinary outer-borough neighborhood that will stay with readers long after other plot details fade away…For those who love Gotham and abhor gore, There Was An Old Woman is the perfect thriller lite.
Publishers Weekly
In this touching novel of suspense from Ephron (Come and Find Me), Evie Ferrante returns home to Brooklyn to care for her estranged alcoholic mother, Sandra. As Evie tries to make the house habitable—it resembles a disaster site more than her childhood home—she finds several suspicious uncashed checks. The only person who appears to know anything is Sandra’s elderly neighbor, Mina Yetner, who’s not entirely on the ball herself. Mina’s house also has marks of another sort of decay: she’s nearly set her house on fire, misplaced her purse in the fridge, and lost important documents. Evie becomes convinced that Mina’s forgetfulness is not simply due to her age, and Mina’s nephew, who insists that Mina move into a nursing home, may be hiding something. The narrative never strays far from home, but Ephron’s double portrait of the intimate details of the inescapable consequences of age and alcoholism is as gripping as any traditional mystery. Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents. (Apr.)
Times Record News (Wichita Falls
“Hallie Ephron spins an intriguing tale of suspense...which is both thrilling and chilling...Ephron’s characters are full-bodied and realistic, the story is fast-paced and captivating, and readers will find themselves completley submerged into the mystyer of who-dun-it.”
Library Journal
Nonagenarian Mina Yetner keeps a list of everyone she has ever known who has died. The list includes the husband she lost 30 years ago and her recently departed sister. She's now filled four pages of a notebook with names, and when she sees her neighbor being taken away in an ambulance it seems the list will grow again. At the same time, Evie Ferrante, a historian working on an exhibit that includes artifacts from dramatic events in New York's history, learns her alcoholic mother is in the hospital again—and this time it's serious. Mina and Evie form an unlikely bond as Evie tries to come to grips with what her mother's life has become and Mina fends off a nephew who thinks she's too old to care for herself. The two women share more than a neighborhood, but also a past one wants to preserve and the other hopes to forget. VERDICT Ephron's (Come and Find Me) domestic noir will appeal to those who enjoy mysteries without bloody and violent themes, but readers looking for fast-paced action in their psychological suspense will have to turn elsewhere. [See Prepub Alert, 10/28/12.]—Vicki Briner, City Coll. Lib., Fort Lauderdale, FL
Kirkus Reviews
Ominous things are happening to elderly women living by themselves in the salt marsh of Higgs Point, across the East River from Manhattan. Home to look after her suddenly hospitalized mother, Evie Ferrante is shocked to discover the bungalow Evie and her sister Ginger grew up in has become a trash heap overnight—mysterious new flat-screen TV and wads of loose cash notwithstanding. Mina Yetner, their 90-year-old next-door neighbor, whose mind seems sharp to Evie, is being treated as senile and worse by her manipulative nephew, who has been pressuring her to sign certain papers. The more oddities Evie discovers, including a car leaking gasoline because it's had acid poured in the tank, the less she trusts even people like Finn, a cute geek who had a crush on her in high school and now reserves donuts for her as proprietor of the still-running dime store. Evie has much invested in nostalgia. A fireman's daughter who witnessed a tragic blaze at a young age, she is curating a show for a historical society about the day in 1945 a lost B-25 bomber slammed into the Empire State Building—a crash, as it happens, Mina survived. Told from both Evie's and Mina's perspectives, the book takes its time setting the scene and establishing the creepy vibe. Ultimately, it doesn't have a strong enough payoff as a suspense novel. But in portraying the inner life of an aged widow struggling heroically against her limitations, it's very good. Ephron, who wrote five novels with Donald Davidoff as G.H. Ephron, continues to assert her own thoughtful style with her third fictional effort under her own name.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062117618
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/10/2013
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 175,536
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

An award-winning mystery reviewer, Hallie Ephron is the author of Never Tell a Lie (a Mary Higgins Clark Award finalist that was also made into the Lifetime Movie Network film And Baby Will Fall) and the Edgar and Anthony Award-nominated Writing and Selling Your Mystery. Ephron lives near Boston.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 16 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 28, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    A Light Mystery of the Aging!

    THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN by Hallie Ephron is a realistic reminder, of how it is “heck” growing old and aging. An intriguing suspense mystery surrounding the lengths some will go for greed, as they prey on the aging.

    The story starts out a little slow with the background; however, gains speed the second half when elements start falling into place for a mystery thriller.

    The book opens with Mina (90, independent and feisty), as she is reading obituaries, as another one “bites the dust”, and is added to her list. The neighbor tells Mina to call her daughter, Ginger with an encrypted message. Mina calls Ginger, who informs her sister Evie, it is her turn to care for their elderly, alcoholic mother (Sandra). Evie is in the middle of a project but agrees to look after her mom. After leaving the hospital she returns to her mother’s house to find a mess of a hoarder among other strange things.

    A series of events occur and some man keeps hanging around wanting to fix things. Evie does not have a good feeling about this man. She learns several of the homes in the neighborhood have been burned, sold, or torn down, as a developer is trying to buy all the properties.

    In the meantime, Mina’s nephew wants to move her into an assisted living so he can get his hands on her home. In addition, Mina starts losing papers, leaves stove on, and gets knocked down by a car. Is some trying to setup these elderly, in order to make them think they are losing it?

    Evie becomes convinced that Mina’s forgetfulness is not simply due to her age, and Mina’s nephew, who insists that Mina move into a nursing home, may be hiding something. Evie and Mina team up to get to the bottom on this mystery in the neighborhood, triggering the elderly. The two women share more than a neighborhood, but also a past one wants to preserve and the other hopes to forget.

    Readers will connect with Mina, and as one of the reviewers mentioned, we all love Grandma Mazur (from Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series), and Mina comes in at a close second!

    There are some nice tie in’s—Evie is a fireman's daughter who witnessed a tragic blaze at a young age, she is curating a show for a historical society about the day in 1945 a lost B-25 bomber slammed into the Empire State Building—a crash, as it happens, Mina survived. Told from both Evie's and Mina's perspectives offering a bit of an historical fiction and a light mystery combo.

    Listened to the audiobook with narrator, Nan McNamara who has a pleasing voice. Would recommend to readers who enjoy light mysteries, not die hard-heart pounding suspense crime thrillers, as may not be exciting enough to please this audience.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2014

    Fir and Ice at saz resone

    Fir and lce at saz resone

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2014

    ArtemisWind

    At found results 1-12

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2014

    Stories here

    &star &starf &star
    P. S. Talk to me and read my bio at starmaker all res

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2013

    good book!

    I wasn't sure if i was going to like this book, but I usually stick with the authors that i really like. Very good book!! You won't be wasting your money if u purchase.

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  • Posted October 15, 2013

    I enjoyed this book, especially Mina, the elderly woman who peop

    I enjoyed this book, especially Mina, the elderly woman who people thought had dementia. She proved what a strong woman she was. Evie finally stepped up to the plate to go help take care of her mother.
    It was a good story, but I wanted more suspense. It was too predictable. Still, I enjoyed it very much!

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  • Posted August 13, 2013

    Suprised I loved it as much as I did, not my usual genre... Read

    Suprised I loved it as much as I did, not my usual genre...
    Read it cover to cover in one sitting

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 13, 2013

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings  A slow start,

    Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings

     A slow start, but a great finish to this thriller.  A young woman who has spent her professional life preserving moments from the past for others to enjoy for years to come, when she is ripped out of her normal routine to her hometown to take care of her suddenly ailing mother.  Along with an elderly neighbor who is quite a feisty one they uncover a plot that is ripping through their neighborhood and the real question is who is behind the plot.

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  • Posted May 2, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Suspenseful and Compelling

    The last thing Evie Ferrante wanted to do was go back to her childhood home and deal with her alcoholic mother. But when her mother is hospitalized, it falls to Evie to do just that. When she arrives at her mother’s home, she finds that her mother has become a hoarder. The house is in chaos and it appears her mother hasn’t thrown anything away in a long time. While cleaning up, Evie renews a friendship with her mother’s elderly neighbor Mina. Mina has her own problems and secrets. Her nephew Brian is trying to get Mina to move into a senior care community. As Evie gets to know more, she finds that deception and madness abound. There is much more going on in the neighborhood than it first seems. Author Hallie Ephron has created realistic characters that will tug on your heartstrings. The characters are well developed and will probably remind you of people you know. Her eye for detail places the reader in the middle of the scene and among the action. The historical aspects of the story are also intriguing. This is a compelling story that will have you on the edge of your seat anticipating the next move. There are twists and turns that will keep you in suspense until the end. While this story may not be filled with heart-stopping action, it will hold you mesmerized until the suspense grabs you without warning. THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN shines a new light on how the elderly manage and why. Once you begin reading this fascinating story, you’ll be entangled and unable to let go until you know the outcome. FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book as part of the author’s virtual book tour. The book was sent to me as part of the promotion in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

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  • Posted April 8, 2013

    In the Higgs Point waterfront section of the Bronx there is some

    In the Higgs Point waterfront section of the Bronx there is some strange things going on in the neighborhood. As former owners pass away, their waterfront homes are sold and quickly demolished. Something bad is happening to the neighbors and the marshland is being threatened.




    Ninety-one year old Mina Yetner is a feisty independent elderly woman who spends her days watching what is becoming of her neighborhood. With her memory failing, Mina makes lists of family, friends and neighbors who have passed away. Mina's pushy nephew Brian is trying to persuade her to give up her house and move to a senior residential community.




    An ambulance pulls up outside of neighbor Sandra Ferrante's house. Before being transported to the hospital, the alcoholic widow asks Mina to call her daughter Ginger and tell her "don't let him in until I'm gone." When Ginger is notified of her mother's hospitalization, she passes the responsibility on to her sister Evie. Evie is surprised to find her mother's house in complete disarray, a hoarder's delight ... except there is a big flat screen television on the wall and envelopes of money containing hundred dollar bills scattered among the debris. As Evie cleans up her mother's house and befriends her mother's neighbor Mina, she quickly discovers that something mysterious is going on, and she is determined to find out what is happening in the quaint Bronx neighborhood.




    There Was An Old Woman is a chilling psychological thriller that keeps the reader sitting on the edge of their seat. Author Hallie Ephron weaves an intriguing tale of mystery and suspense written in the third person narrative alternating between the perspectives of Mina Yetner and Evie Ferrante. This multi-layered tale of deception engages the reader to follow along as the suspense slowly builds and the mystery unfolds with intriguing backstories, cryptic messages, deception, suspicion, and enough twists and turns that keeps them guessing and turning the pages.




    Mina was my favorite character, I loved her feistiness, sassy sense of humor, and fierce independence. I admired Evie's strength and determination to get to bottom of what was happening in the neighborhood. The author does a really good job of building their character development, they are realistic and believable, you can't help but follow along with these two ladies as the story unfolds.




    With an interesting cast of characters who you will either love or dislike; witty dialogue and interactions; a richly detailed and descriptive setting in the Bronx; and a fast-paced storyline that captivates the reader's attention; There Was An Old Woman is a creepy and sinister psychological tale that will delight diehard mystery suspense thriller fans.

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  • Posted April 4, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This book has been called "a work of domestic noir" an

    This book has been called "a work of domestic noir" and I can't agree more! The cast of  unforgettable characters will keep you spellbound and reading until you finish the book! Admittedly I had guessed what was going on pretty quickly, but the fun was seeing how the characters would find out and what they would do, and who would survive the ever entangled web of deceit. The ending may surprise you as well! I couldn't put this one down and you won't be able to either!

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  • Posted April 3, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I'm not a big suspense/thriller reader, but something about Hall

    I'm not a big suspense/thriller reader, but something about Hallie Ephron's novel, There Was An Old Woman caught my eye. Maybe it was the nursery rhyme title or maybe it was the fact that one of the major characters is an independent woman in her 80s.
    Either way, I'm glad I read this unique novel. The book opens with Mina reading the obituaries in the Daily News. She spies the name of one of her neighbors and adds the name and date to her notebook. (The neighbor is number 151.)
    Mina hears an ambulance and discovers another neighbor being taken out on a stretcher. The neighbor tells Mina to call her daughter Ginger and then says, "Please tell Ginger. Don't let him in until I'm gone."
    And with those cryptic words she is loaded into the ambulance. Mina calls Ginger, who calls her sister Evie and tells her it is Evie's turn to care for their  bitter, angry, alcoholic mother. Evie reluctantly agrees and, after seeing her mother in the hospital, heads to her mother's house and is shocked by what she sees.
    The house looks like an episode of Hoarders: garbage everywhere, a broken window, rotting food, dirty dishes and empty cat food tins. But her mother doesn't have a cat. And where did she get the brand new big flat screen TV on the wall?
    There is a neighbor whom Evie doesn't know who has been hanging around her mother, and Evie doesn't trust him. Evie goes to visit Mina, and Mina tells her that several homes in their Higgs Point neighborhood have burned, or been sold and torn down. A developer is trying to buy up all the property on the cheap.
    Evie stops in to the local neighborhood store and sees that it is run by the son of the owner. He tells her that he has formed a non-profit to try and save the neighborhood from the developers, and encourages her to join him.
    Mina's nephew wants to move her into an assisted living home so that he can get his hands on her home. Strange things start happening to Mina- she loses important papers, leaves the stove on, gets knocked down by a car backing up. Is her nephew up to no good or is it too much for her to continue to live on her own?
    Mina and Evie are curious to find out what is going on in the neighborhood and who is behind it. They  make a great team and their characters are so appealing. Evie feels guilt about not keeping in touch with her mother (who doesn't make it easy) and I think many readers will relate to her.
    But for me, Mina is the real star. I love this character! She seems like the neighbor we all know, with her fastidious ways and fierce independence. She misses her beloved sister, whom she lived with for many years, but she continues on with her life.
    The mystery keeps you guessing, and although I thought I knew who did it, I didn't know the all-important why. The writing is crisp, and this is the perfect book for a rainy day read.

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  • Posted April 2, 2013

    I loved this book. It had wonderful characters, and the locale w

    I loved this book. It had wonderful characters, and the locale was fascinating. I didn't see the ending coming! I have recommended this to my friends who love mysteries. I am a fan. Molly Campbell

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  • Posted April 2, 2013

    I loved the characters in what is now my favorite book by Hallie

    I loved the characters in what is now my favorite book by Hallie Ephron. Mina, the feisty ninety-one year “old” woman rekindles her acquaintance with Evie, whose alcoholic mother lives next door to Mina. Evie, a bit of an old soul herself, works in historic preservation and senses a little mystery in Mina’s own history. Ephron handles the difficult issues of aging and alcoholism with realism, compassion and even a little of the dark humor you need to cope with both. Set in a neighborhood where the East River meets Long Island Sound, you can almost smell the marsh as the neighborhood filled with shotgun houses falls prey to ruthless development. Ephron blends an airplane crash into the Empire State Building in the 1940’s with the timeless greed for land to create mounting suspense about what is happening to Mina, Evie and their neighborhood. Little doses of suspense begin to accumulate like a steady snowfall. Ephron, who teaches how to write suspense, defines it as “that itchy twitchy feeling you give a reader when they know something is going to happen.”
    I thought I had figured it all out, even pleased by the ending I knew was coming, until Ephron nailed me and one of her characters in the middle of the forehead with an snowball of an ending I did not see coming.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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