Sunday, January 28, 2024

The Coworker by Freida McFadden


The best way I can describe Freida McFadden's novels is to say they are like a snack--you start nibbling and the next thing you know you've eaten the whole bag. I started this novel late Saturday night and wrapped it up early Sunday afternoon in between loads of laundry. 

Dawn Schiff works as an accountant at Vixed, a health supplement company. She sits next to Natalie, the top saleswoman in the company. Cubicles for all! Natalie and Dawn are complete opposites: Dawn is definitely on the spectrum--she eats one color food (all white, all yellow), must have everything organized, struggles with social norms and cues, and loves turtles above everything else. Natalie is blonde, gorgeous, and not above using her physical assets to bring in sales. 

The novel starts out with Dawn not showing up to work one morning, and Natalie notices. It's odd, because Dawn is punctual every day. Doesn't deviate from her routine. Yet here it is, over an hour later, and she's not at her desk, and no one has seen her. Natalie begins to worry; where could Dawn be? Add to that a bizarre phone call to Dawn's desk; "help me" are the only words spoken, and it sounds like Dawn. 

Natalie is worried--so worried she remembers where Dawn lives, and decides to check on her. Inside, she finds a pool of blood and what looks like a crime scene with no body.  Police get involved, and it's soon national news: where is Dawn Schiff?

The novel moves back and forth between present day, four months in the past and  two months in the past. It also switches narrators between Dawn and Natalie. What at first seems like simple co-worker concern from Natalie quickly becomes something much darker, and strap in because it's a roller coaster ride from there on out. 

What can I say? A co-worker can be someone you admire or like, but they turn out to be not so nice. We've all been there. But this takes it to eleven. 

You'll gobble this up pretty quickly. I can't say the ending was satisfying, but everything was tied up neatly. It was a heck of a read. 

Rating: 4/6 for a thriller with plenty of ups and downs, a clear message about the damage bullying does for both kids and adults, and being accepted for yourself-quirks and all. Office politics are a hot mess in this one. 

Available in paperback, ebook, and audio. 

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