When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole [in Booklist]
Both Susan Dalian and Jay Aaseng are relatively new narrators, but theirs is no novice performance of historical romance novelist Alyssa Cole’s first thriller. The pair alternates bearing witness to the aggressive gentrification erasing a historically Black Brooklyn neighborhood by wealthy white families and investors.
Dalian’s Sidney is immediately unsettled, having recently escaped her abusive husband to return to her childhood home with her ailing mother. Aaseng adapts effortlessly to ever-shifting situations as Sidney’s new across-the-street (white) neighbor, Theo. Sidney and Theo initially cross paths during “one of those expensive-ass ‘Historic Brooklyn Brownstones’ tours” of their Gifford Place neighborhood, an experience so white-washed that Sidney decides she’ll create her own tour; Theo, surprisingly, volunteers to assist.
As tensions rise throughout the once close-knit enclave, opportunists emerge just as old-timers disappear overnight. Sidney might be the neighborhood’s only hope – and she’s going to need Theo’s help, whether or not he’s trustworthy. Dalian and Aaseng make this a well-timed, highly-charged, hard-to-turn-off creepfest.