By Thomas William Simpson
Bantam Books, 561pp, 1998
This book is very similar to
Goodlow's Ghosts, except it's not a
ghost story. It's a lighthearted and fun suspense thriller. Like
Goodlow, it's not very serious, or even that good, but it's an
enjoyable read nonetheless.
Samantha Henderson is a stay-at-home,
busy with shuttling her son and daughter to school and dance lessons and
piano lessons, and dealing with a jerk of a husband, Gunn. He is a
salesman, charming and witty when necessary, bossy, condescending, and
rude the rest of the time.
In fact, Gunn is so unlikable that it's
hard to believe Sam has put with him for so long - 15 years.
Anyway, Gunn gets a job offer he can't
refuse - selling THE hot new toy for a six-figure base income and living
in a seaside mansion complete with a cook, limo driver, and caretaker.
It's an offer they couldn't refuse.
Simpson presents it very well. Early in
the book, when Mr. Reilly, Gunn's new boss, is telling them that Gunn,
if hired, would be traveling quite a bit, and would that be a problem?
Sam is hesitant, since she doesn't want her children's father gone too
much, but then Reilly tells them the mansion in The Hamptons would be
their home. As Simpson put it, "that's when Samantha Ann Quincy
Henderson redefined sacrifice."
Simpson employs this device throughout
the book, dropping little hints and clues. We know right away the whole
job offer and job itself is a scam. We know Gunn Henderson somehow winds
up in jail. We know Brady, the caretaker, isn't everything he seems to
be (same with the cook).
The device is entertaining but too
intrusive. It's the author showing how clever he is. The characters are
not telling their story, the author is showing off his plotting skills.
But what the hey. It's fun, and I only
paid a couple bucks for the book at a used bookstore.
Anyway, the rest of the book is fairly
conventional, and could be sub-titled The Tempting of Gunn and Samantha
Henderson. Brady the caretaker is the tempter, and in Sam's case, the
seducer (are you surprised?).
The Caretaker is worth a trip to
the library, a pleasant few days worth of reading, and a breezy read.
That's about it.