She was the perfect wife, with the perfect life. You would kill to have it…
Ciara Dunphy has it all–a loving husband, well-behaved children, and a beautiful home. Her circle of friends in their small Irish village go to her for tips about mothering, style, and influencer success–a picture-perfect life is easy money on Instagram. But behind the filters, reality is less polished.
Enter Mishti Guha: Ciara’s best friend. Ciara welcomed Mishti into her inner circle for being… unlike the other mothers in the group. But, discontent in a marriage arranged for her through her parents back in Calcutta, Mishti now raises her young daughter in a country that is too cold, among the children of her new friends who look nothing like her. She just wants what Ciara has–the ease with which she moves through the world–and in that sense, Mishti might be exactly like the other mothers.
And there’s earth mother Lauren Doyle, born, bred, and the butt of jokes in their village. With her disheveled partner and children who run naked in the yard, they’re mostly a happy lot, though unsurprisingly ostracized for being the singular dysfunction in Ciara’s immaculate world. When Lauren finds an unlikely ally in Mishti, she decides that her days of ridicule are over.
Then Ciara is found murdered in her own pristine home, and the house of cards she’d worked so hard to build comes crumbling down. Everyone seems to have something to gain from Ciara’s death, so if they don’t want the blame, it may be the perfect time to air their enemies’ dirty laundry.
Dirty Laundry is an intriguing domestic thriller (a genre I always enjoy) that delves into the intricacies of relationships, betrayal, and keeping up appearances.
The novel’s characters are skillfully crafted, each with their own flaws and vulnerabilities – but most of them are rather unlikeable! Ciara has very few redeeming qualities – she’s in an unhappy marriage but seems to go out of her way to be awful to her husband – whilst Lauren, who Ciara seems to bully, is seen as the outsider but doesn’t always endear herself to other people (but then again, should she have to?). Mishti is the only character I felt sorry for – I wanted her to behave differently but also understood why she didn’t. The women’s husbands – two in particular – seem to be at best useless and at worst, awful people. Yet despite many of these self-absorbed, selfish characters, the story still drew me in. I tend to enjoy books with unlikeable characters so this was no surprise, but I felt that the animosity and bad behaviour added to the tension.
At the start of the book, we find out that one of the characters has been murdered. We then switch backwards in time, in the lead-up to the murder, as we get to know them all better and start to see that various people might have reasons for wanting this particular person dead. But which one actually killed them?
The story is definitely not about the murder; it’s about the characters and their relationships, friendships and interactions with their community. It’s a fairly slow burner of a novel so don’t expect anything too action-packed, but I really enjoyed it.
My rating: 4/5
Many thanks to the publisher, Penguin, for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest review.