Careful what you wish for A novel of suspense

Hallie Ephron

Book - 2019

Emily Harlow is a professional organizer who helps people declutter their lives; she's married to man who can't drive past a yard sale without stopping. He's filled their basement, attic, and garage with his finds. Like other professionals who make a living decluttering peoples' lives, Emily has devised a set of ironclad rules. When working with couples, she makes clear that the client is only allowed to declutter his or her own stuff. That stipulation has kept Emily's o...wn marriage together these past few years. She'd love nothing better than to toss out all her husband's crap. He says he's a collector. Emily knows better-he's a hoarder. The larger his "collection" becomes, the deeper the distance grows between Emily and the man she married. Luckily, Emily's got two new clients to distract herself: an elderly widow whose husband left behind a storage unit she didn't know existed, and a young wife whose husband won't allow her stuff into their house. Emily's initial meeting with the young wife takes a detour when, after too much wine, the women end up fantasizing about how much more pleasant life would be without their collecting spouses. But the next day Emily finds herself in a mess that might be too big for her to clean up. Careful what you wish for, the old adage says...now Emily might lose her freedom, her marriage...and possibly her life.

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Subjects
Genres
Thrillers (Fiction)
Domestic fiction
Published
New York, NY : William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers [2019]
Language
English
Physical Description
288 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN
0062473654
9780062473653
Main Author
Hallie Ephron (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Emily Harlow has changed careers, going from teacher to professional organizer. It's something of an odd choice since her husband, Frank, is a flea-market enthusiast, verging on hoarder. But Emily's fledgling business, which she runs with her best friend, is doing well, and the future looks even brighter, thanks to two new clients: Mrs. Murphy, who needs to clean the storage locker of her deceased husband, and Quinn Newell, a young woman who wants help cleaning her garage. Of course, nothing is as it seems, and, before long, the jobs are suspiciously intertwined by the discovery of Quinn's husband's body in Mrs. Murphy's storage locker. In Emily, veteran writer Ephron has created a likable amateur sleuth, albeit one who figures out various plot elements considerably after the reader does. Still, the story flows smoothly and agreeably around an engaging premise. It's easy to see this as the start of a series; after all, there are plenty of opportunities to find dead bodies when one is cleaning out closets and garages. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Booklist Reviews

Emily Harlow has changed careers, going from teacher to professional organizer. It's something of an odd choice since her husband, Frank, is a flea-market enthusiast, verging on hoarder. But Emily's fledgling business, which she runs with her best friend, is doing well, and the future looks even brighter, thanks to two new clients: Mrs. Murphy, who needs to clean the storage locker of her deceased husband, and Quinn Newell, a young woman who wants help cleaning her garage. Of course, nothing is as it seems, and, before long, the jobs are suspiciously intertwined by the discovery of Quinn's husband's body in Mrs. Murphy's storage locker. In Emily, veteran writer Ephron has created a likable amateur sleuth, albeit one who figures out various plot elements considerably after the reader does. Still, the story flows smoothly and agreeably around an engaging premise. It's easy to see this as the start of a series; after all, there are plenty of opportunities to find dead bodies when one is cleaning out closets and garages. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Professional organizer Emily Harlow would love to attack her own husband's sky-high pile, but it's against her own rules. Still, she and a new client laughingly imagine what life would be like without their hoarding husbands. Careful what you wish for, Emily. With a 40,000-copy first printing. Copyright 2019 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Best-selling author Ephron (There Was an Old Woman) introduces professional organizer Emily Harlow, owner of Freeze-Frame Clutter Kickers. Emily likes to keep her things in order, but husband Frank loves to hit the yard sales on the weekends and has filled their home with stuff. One would think Emily could fix the issue of clutter at her own house, but she has a rule that you can only organize your own things, so Frank's finds are off-limits. While working, she meets Mrs. Murphy and Quinn Newell. Mrs. Murphy hires Emily to go through the possessions of her recently deceased husband, while Quinn Newell hires her company to declutter her garage. Emily crosses professional boundaries by getting a little tipsy during her initial consultation with Quinn. They both joke about getting rid of their sloppy spouses, and a few days later Emily finds herself in a huge mess. VERDICT With smooth dialog and a title that is a good representation of the story line, Ephron offers a great "murder swap" mystery reminiscent of the 1951 Hitchcock classic Strangers on a Train. Recommended for those who love puzzling, unpredictable mysteries with a little lesson in professional organizing on the side. [See Prepub Alert, 2/11/19.]—Joni Gheen, LadyJ's Bookish Nook, McConnelsville, OH Copyright 2019 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

This outstanding standalone from bestseller Ephron (You'll Never Know, Dear) may be the first domestic thriller to weave in Marie Kondo's decluttering theory about discarding things that don't spark joy. Paring down her belongings brings so much joy to Emily Harlow that she and her friend Becca Jain have started a business, Freeze-Frame Clutter Kickers, to help others organize. Emily's husband's obsession with possessions brings her no joy, especially since his "compulsive yard-sale-ing" has overstuffed the basement of their suburban Boston home. But Emily's rule is that she can't discard another's property, even in her own house. Meanwhile, a new client wants Emily and Becca to clear out her late husband's storage unit she didn't know he had, and Emily bonds with another client whose husband is also a hoarder. The discovery of a body in the storage unit raises the stakes. Appealing characters and some suspenseful detective work help elevate this in-depth look at people's emotional attachment to things. After being a finalist five times, Ephron may finally win the Mary Higgins Clark Award for this one. Agent: Gail Hochman, Brandt & Hochman Literary. (Aug.) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A professional organizer whose husband is a hoarder distracts her growing relationship troubles by focusing on her new clients, one of whom takes her tipsy fantasy about life being more pleasant without spouses a little too far.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A professional organizer whose husband is a hoarder distracts herself from her growing relationship troubles by focusing on her new clients, one of which takes her tipsy fantasy about life being more pleasant without spouses a little too far. 40,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"Thrilling and suspenseful...a modern-day grown-up Nancy Drew." -- Jamie Lee Curtis, TimeA Christian Science Monitor Best Book of the MonthEmily Harlow is a professional organizer who helps people declutter their lives; she's married to a man who can't drive past a yard sale without stopping. He's filled their basement, attic, and garage with his finds. Like other professionals who make a living decluttering peoples' lives, Emily has devised a set of ironclad rules. When working with couples, she makes clear that the client is only allowed to declutter his or her own stuff. That stipulation has kept Emily's own marriage together these past few years. She'd love nothing better than to toss out all her husband's crap. He says he's a collector. Emily knows better'he's a hoarder. The larger his 'collection' becomes, the deeper the distance grows between Emily and the man she married.Luckily, Emily's got two new clients to distract herself: an elderly widow whose husband left behind a storage unit she didn't know existed, and a young wife whose husband won't allow her stuff into their house. Emily's initial meeting with the young wife takes a detour when, after too much wine, the women end up fantasizing about how much more pleasant life would be without their collecting spouses. But the next day Emily finds herself in a mess that might be too big for her to clean up. Careful what you wish for, the old adage says . . . now Emily might lose her freedom, her marriage . . . and possibly her life.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

"Thrilling and suspenseful...a modern-day grown-up Nancy Drew." -- Jamie Lee Curtis, TimeA Christian Science Monitor Best Book of the MonthEmily Harlow is a professional organizer who helps people declutter their lives; she’s married to a man who can’t drive past a yard sale without stopping. He’s filled their basement, attic, and garage with his finds. Like other professionals who make a living decluttering peoples’ lives, Emily has devised a set of ironclad rules. When working with couples, she makes clear that the client is only allowed to declutter his or her own stuff. That stipulation has kept Emily’s own marriage together these past few years. She’d love nothing better than to toss out all her husband’s crap. He says he’s a collector. Emily knows better—he’s a hoarder. The larger his “collection” becomes, the deeper the distance grows between Emily and the man she married.Luckily, Emily’s got two new clients to distract herself: an elderly widow whose husband left behind a storage unit she didn’t know existed, and a young wife whose husband won’t allow her stuff into their house. Emily’s initial meeting with the young wife takes a detour when, after too much wine, the women end up fantasizing about how much more pleasant life would be without their collecting spouses. But the next day Emily finds herself in a mess that might be too big for her to clean up. Careful what you wish for, the old adage says . . . now Emily might lose her freedom, her marriage . . . and possibly her life.