Narrator Nan McNamara’s homespun approach is perfect for this light domestic noir. She deftly channels Mina, the spunky 91-year-old heroine whose curiosity and verve fuel the mystery. Fiercely independent, Mina is trying to stay out of the clutches of various scoundrels, most notably her avaricious nephew, Brian. Her only ally is Evie, the much younger daughter of her dying alcoholic neighbor. Despite their differences in age, the two women bond, and McNamara succeeds in delivering convincing portrayals of both of them. She doesn’t do quite as well with the men in the book, who are almost all skunks and tend to sound the same. Still, her playful delivery hits the mark with the author’s clever wordplay and sly humor. A.B.S. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine
with a B&N Audiobooks Subscription
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.
…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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hallie Ephron’s newest is that thing you almost never seean utterly fresh story. Evie and her crew will keep you guessing and hoping and teetering between laughter and tears, all the way home.
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.
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.
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!
Ephron delivers a suspenseful punch that kept me up all night reading...A cleverly plotted, well-orchestrated, and thoroughly engaging novel.
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.
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.
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
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.