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Drugs, Secrets, and Disappearances in “The Woman Inside”

in Thrillers by

The Woman Inside (Dutton) by E.G. Scott is a story of marriage, prescription drugs, money and secrets. Lots of secrets. At first, you think you’ve got all you need to know about the main characters—their motivations, thoughts, emotions—to deduce the final outcome based on these scatterings sprinkled throughout this well-crafted book.

But the further you go, those tiny revelations shift and suddenly you’re cruising down another path you hadn’t quite planned on taking. It’s like embarking on an adventurous Sunday drive down a windy road, enjoying the wind in your hair and suddenly losing your connection to the GPS. While it’s still not the way you planned to go, it’s as interesting and colorful enough to fuel your curiosity preventing you from pulling over and asking for help. So you keep on driving with the full expectation that the journey will continue to bring more surprises.

Rebecca, a pharmaceutical salesperson, and Paul, a general contractor turned high-end realtor, are presented as a happily married couple that has been together for more than 20 years. We first meet them as they receive a visit at home by the police, questioning them about Rebecca’s boss’s wife, Sasha, who has gone missing. They answer the questions with poise, but it feels like they’re hiding something. Did they have something to do with the woman’s disappearance?

That same day Rebecca is called into the office of her boss, Mark, who tells her she’s fired. The Human Resources department allegedly received a tip from an anonymous employee that the two are having an affair, which is especially problematic with Sasha vanishing into thin air.

Not to mention the fact that Rebecca’s behavior as a result of her dipping into the company’s samples to feed her prescription drug habit has become a problem. Rebecca reels, partly from the pills she ingested before leaving the house earlier, but mostly from the fear that this loss of income will interfere with her plan to start a new life.

She questions whether to let HR know Mark’s actually the dealer who supplies her with the goods from his own accumulated stash. For him, it’s not about using, instead it’s all in the name of making a little extra money on the side—not that he needs it.

She also wonders if she should expose the fact that Mark knows all about the truth surrounding a drug trial that’s proved to have fatal side effects even if taken in low doses and has not yet shared this information with the general public.

In the end, Rebecca chooses to put all this info in her back pocket to potentially use at a later date and struggles to maintain her composure as she leaves the building. Determined to move forward with her plan, she heads to the bank and sees that Paul has beaten her to the punch.

But Rebecca doesn’t let on that she knows about the drained joint savings account. She also withholds that she’s been laid off, observing instead how long he can keep up pretending all is right in their world with more shows of affection and nostalgia she hadn’t seen for years.

She takes his cue and carries on with her own usual routine as if she still had a lucrative job. She goes to spin class with many other privileged Long Island ladies, Sasha among them, before she was reported missing. She pretends to be working on her computer as she used to at the end of the day receiving Paul’s attention as if nothing were amiss.

Meanwhile, Paul has his own arsenal of secrets that through Rebecca’s perspective are treacherous. After his construction business dried up, but before he started working with his best friend, Wes, selling swanky real estate properties on the east end of Long Island, he spent many un-showered days lounging around the house in his pajamas.

When he did venture out, it was to walk their dog, Duff. It was during one of those walks where he meets and befriends Sheila, a local married woman who also harbors a couple of staggering secrets that aren’t fully revealed until much later in the book, and they are doozies.

Their friendship blossoms into an affair, but Paul’s intention was never to leave his wife, much to the grave disappointment of Sheila, who doesn’t respond well to rejection. In fact, she makes it her mission to tease and torment Paul by first sending naughty pictures to his cell phone, followed up by threatening text messages to expose their affair to Rebecca.

Paul isn’t having it, though. He’s moving forward with recommiting himself to the marriage and embarks on a delicious surprise that he surreptitiously plots thinking Rebecca is none the wiser.

Ah, but we know she is, and her growing suspicions are fed with the impressive growing concoction of the pharmaceuticals she continues to consume, coupled with a knee-jerk reaction of fear based on a traumatic childhood event.

To complicate matters further, Sheila appears one night in their bedroom while they sleep unleashing a chain reaction of horrific events that doesn’t much help Rebecca’s paranoia. It’s then when the twisted game of cat and mouse really gets started.

As for the heretofore-mentioned motivations, thoughts, and emotions, they all turn out to be something else entirely as E.G. Scott (the pseudonym for the two writers—Elizabeth Keenan and Greg Wands) masterfully spins a tale of doubt. You can’t help but ask yourself the looming question and common thread that runs through the novel—how well does anyone know anyone?

The answer is simple: Only as much as they are willing to reveal.

The Woman Inside is now available for purchase.

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ABOUT E.G. SCOTT:

Photo: © Augusten Burroughs

E. G. Scott is a pseudonym for two writers, who have been friends for over twenty-years, and have been writing plays, screenplays, and short stories separately since they were kids. They’ve collaborated on multiple projects from the beginning of their friendship, but this is their first published work together. This book came out of their shared love of thrillers and noir and wanting to collaborate on a novel for a long time. They are currently working on their next thriller.

Janice's career in the publishing industry began 25 years ago when she was a publicist for a boutique literary PR firm. Since then, she’s worked her way up the masthead at such publications as Natural Health, Men’s Fitness, Whole Living, and Prevention, to name a few, and today is the director of editorial operations at Inc. magazine. When she’s not pounding the internet in search of a literary agent to represent her, you can find her at home in Brooklyn with her blind Bijon and deaf Shih Tzu working on her next book (and waiting for her kids to respond to her text messages).

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