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There Was an Old Woman
     

There Was an Old Woman

4.1 51
by Hallie Ephron
 

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There Was An Old Woman by Hallie Ephron is a compelling novel of psychological suspense in which a young woman becomes entangled in a terrifying web of deception and madness involving an elderly neighbor.

When Evie Ferrante learns that her mother has been hospitalized, she finds her mother’s house in chaos. Sorting through her mother’s

Overview

There Was An Old Woman by Hallie Ephron is a compelling novel of psychological suspense in which a young woman becomes entangled in a terrifying web of deception and madness involving an elderly neighbor.

When Evie Ferrante learns that her mother has been hospitalized, she finds her mother’s house in chaos. Sorting through her mother’s belongings, Evie discovers objects that don’t quite belong there, and begins to raise questions.

Evie renews a friendship with Mina, an elderly neighbor who might know more about her mother’s recent activities, but Mina is having her own set of problems: Her nephew Brian is trying to persuade her to move to a senior care community. As Evie investigates her mother’s actions, a darker story of deception and madness involving Mina emerges.

In There Was an Old Woman, award-winning mystery author Hallie Ephron delivers another work of domestic noir with truly unforgettable characters that will keep you riveted.

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.”
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.”
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.)
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.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062117618
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
12/10/2013
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
180,545
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are Saying About This

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.”

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.”

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.”

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!”

Meet the Author

Hallie Ephron is the New York Times bestselling author of Never Tell a Lie, Come and Find Me, and There Was an Old Woman. She is the mystery reviewer for the Boston Globe. She grew up in Beverly  Hills, the daughter of Hollywood screenwriters, and lives near Boston, Massachusetts.

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There Was an Old Woman 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 51 reviews.
quaintinns More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this 267 page book. It DID start out slow and seemed to drag and on, but I kept plodding on and and the book kept geting better. There are very few editing mistakes, most of these are are a left out word, which occurs very seldom and more rare, the wrong tense is used. There is violence and most of it centers around fire, as do several murders. Fire scares me ro death, soI found this book creepy. I really like Mina, Conner and Evie. The rest are not worth an Indian nickel, even if bagged together and sold on e-bay. Brian was so mean and cold hearted, I wanted to do him bodily harm. The author has a smooth, slow, take your time style of writting. Reading this book is rather like waiting for a train to pass, at first the reader is thinking hurry up, hurry up, then starts wondering what is on the train, imaging how many cars, what is in the next car, where it has been, looking at all the graffitti, wondering who did it and why, then suddenly rhe arms go up, everyone takes off and bang the book is satisfactorily completed. All to soon it is over. This is a nice clean, cozy read, no sex at all, no romancr, no homosexuality. There are a few gentle friendship kisses. No romance, no religion. A few curse words, dearh of several cats, ( I still have not figured out the purpose of the extra cats, unless it was confusio, which it did confuse the reader as they did not add much to story, nor did the golf balls or lawn chairs. The murders are sad, but not very descriptive, lacking shocking details. The switcher roo was a nice touch. The why was reaching a bit, but unusual, so it balanced out well. The ending was satisfactory. I really enjoyed this novel. I will read more by this author. It is one of the better books, I have read in the last few months. I paid $2.99 plus tax. It was worth it. It is not perfect, but then, everything has faults. For ages 16 and up. Recommended. I would have given 5 stars if editing was perfect, it moved a bit faster and the cats had not died. AD
helenstam More than 1 year ago
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!
mollydcampbell More than 1 year ago
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
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous 11 months ago
SeaKyle More than 1 year ago
Meh. The plot idea was a good one but the story could have been much darker and more of a thriller. It was easy to spot who and what was going on very early in the story. It was an easy, light read. The characters were likeable enough. I don't know that I'd read another of this author's book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beyond the mystery, i really enjoyed the setting, which is practically a character in its own right.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great storyline and loveable characters!
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Dogpatchmom More than 1 year ago
A surprizingly good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyed this book and devoured it in a day.
otterly More than 1 year ago
Evie and her friend Ginger haven't seen their mothers houses in the marshy area of NYC in quite some time, and are dismayed at the deterioration which has occurred. This was rather fascinating to read--to see what happens to elderly people on their own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Betrayal and revenge page turner
VivisMom More than 1 year ago
Good read - reminded me of another story or movie, but different enough that it kept my attention.
MsKiz More than 1 year ago
I liked the characters and the sub-plot of a mother-daughter relationship held my interest, but overall, I figured out what was happening early on. The book is well written so I liked it as a break between "heavier" reading.