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There Was an Old Woman: A Novel of Suspense…

There Was an Old Woman: A Novel of Suspense (edition 2013)

by Hallie Ephron

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11214107,804 (3.79)1
Title:There Was an Old Woman: A Novel of Suspense
Authors:Hallie Ephron
Info:William Morrow (2013), Hardcover, 304 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Fiction, Suspense fiction

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There Was an Old Woman by Hallie Ephron

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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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1 vote JudithDCollins | Nov 27, 2014 |
When you turn that last page and say to yourself "this can't be all" you know you've read a good one.

I loved the characters, the setting, Evie's job, and the mystery. Had a hunch about the villain but was only partially right.

Will have to check out more from this author ( )
1 vote busyreadin | May 31, 2014 |
Excellent! More than just a mystery/thriller, it also is a study in aging and dealing with a parent's death. ( )
  Dianekeenoy | May 12, 2013 |
I like mysteries such as this. It's books like Hallie Ephron's that recommend to readers of this genre looking for a new author. Like Laura Lippman, Ephron has created a story that is enthralling enough that many avid readers can finish it in a weekend easily and enjoy the entire process. I know I did! ( )
1 vote jcmontgomery | May 3, 2013 |
There Was an Old Woman is labeled as a suspense novel, and I suppose that's technically true. To my mind, however, it is also a wake-up call to all of us about how easily in real life vulnerable old people, particularly women, are being taken advantage of all too often. You are old, maybe neglected, live alone and possibly have physical and/or mental issues. That makes you an easy target for unscrupulous con artists, maybe even relatives who want what little you have.

In this wonderful novel each character is so real that the reader really cares about them, or hates them and enjoys seeing their plans go awry. Evie Ferrante is our heroine. She is a curator at the Five-Boroughs Historical Society and she is shepherding a historical artifact from the Empire State Building to feature in her first exhibition. The topic is major fires in New York City, a natural for her since her beloved father had been a firefighter. It was not a good time for her sister to call and demand her help because their mother was hospitalized in bad shape.

That takes Evie back to the neighborhood where she grew up and into the middle of a terrible mess. Mom is an alcoholic and her house looks like a hoarder's. There doesn't appear to have been any maintenance done on the house in years and it is literally falling apart. Evie is sad and discouraged, but when she talks to the neighbor Mina Yetner, the woman becomes a link to the happier past and a friend.

She also meets other neighbors and the man who has taken over his father's general store down the street. He at least is good looking and intelligent, and he is very helpful in her attempts to make the house safe and clean. Mina's nephew on the other hand is obviously up to no good as he seems to spend more and more time with her, and try to keep Evie away.

I was so involved in this story I could hardly put the book down. I figured out early in the book what was happening, although I under-estimated the extent of the crimes. It was the characters who kept me turning the pages, cheering for the old women and hoping Evie could save them from the evil in their midst. It is a psychological rather than violent mystery, but there is a bit of violence involved. I guarantee you will be horrified at the damage done to the victims in the story.

I also enjoyed the history of New York City that is a large part of the story and I think you will too. This is a unique novel and I enjoyed every page of it.

Highly recommended
Source: Publisher through Partners in Crime Book Tours ( )
1 vote bjmitch | May 1, 2013 |
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A novel of psychological suspense, in which a young woman returns to the quirky Bronx riverfront neighborhood where she grew up, only to find that her mother's house has become a hoarder's nest. As Evie digs into the events of the past few months, a bigger, more sinister story begins to unfold.… (more)

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