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Dirty Laundry


Dirty Laundry

The scandalous secrets, resentments and ambitions of three young mothers are hung out for all to see in DIRTY LAUNDRY, a tightly woven, multiperspective work of domestic suspense from debut author Disha Bose.

Ciara Dunphy rules all in her small Irish village. Although newcomers are not typically welcome there, Ciara and her dazzlingly handsome husband, Gerry, quickly charmed their neighbors by scooping up the biggest house on the block and fitting themselves into the cliquey friend groups that populate their neighborhood. As a lifestyle blogger on Instagram, Ciara wields compliments and passive aggressive insults like razor-sharp weapons, and the local moms cling to her and the power that her proximity brings. After all, who doesn’t want the chance to end up in a perfectly lit and edited photo looking marvelous and fun to thousands of followers?

But all is not perfect in this tiny village or in Ciara’s life. Sure, the fame and glory are nice, but her husband doesn’t seem to recognize what she does as work. Even though she knows the effort she puts into every post or sponsorship deal, the glory is beginning to fade as her two kids grow up, becoming less cute and more demanding.

"Bose is an assured, confident writer.... Perfect for readers of Joshilyn Jackson and Meg Mitchell Moore, DIRTY LAUNDRY is not only a captivating character study, but a fun palate cleanser between darker reads."

For every popular girl, there also must be an outcast (high school 101). In Ciara’s village, it’s Lauren Doyle. Although a lifelong resident, Lauren has simply never fit in. Whether it’s because she grew up poorer than her neighbors, her style is a little more bohemian, or she can be a bit off-putting, the reason is never explained. But if you’ve ever been part of --- or openly ostracized from --- a clique, you know her type. Lauren and Ciara have never hit it off, and now Lauren has become the village idiot, scapegoat and target. Her suggestions in the mommy group chat are ignored, then put down; her offers for group dinners are laughed away; and her three children are beginning to face the same hurtful treatment as the other moms and kids close ranks.

It's obvious that Ciara is behind at least some of it, but Lauren can’t fight the gorgeous, popular mom. So she begins to turn her solutions inward. If she has the perfect boyfriend-turned-husband, happy kids and a home she's proud of, Ciara’s insults can’t hurt her. Or can they?

Situated between the two women is Mishti Guha. Mishti has never acclimated to the cold that seems to have taken root in her bones since she stepped foot in Ireland as part of an arranged marriage. Her husband, Parth, is a successful doctor, but he runs their house like an office and never allows her to fully come into her own. Her one saving grace --- besides her adorable daughter --- is queen bee Ciara. For some reason, Ciara has taken Mishti under her wing. With few friends and even fewer family members to support her and confide in, Mishti knows that Ciara is the kind of life jacket she simply cannot shed…even when Ciara’s actions suggest a much darker side.

More fully aware of the risks of going against the crowd, Mishti is sympathetic to Lauren, who, to her eye, has never done anything serious to invoke the wrath of the local mean mommies. Yet she knows that extending a hand to this woman would be, quite literally, social suicide. But things are changing in their village.

If you’ve ever read a domestic thriller before, especially one with a social media-famous character, you already know that Ciara is hiding a darker persona beneath her perfectly curated Instagram feed and witty captions. But as Bose immerses readers in each woman’s household, we see not only a mean-spirited, calculating Ciara, but a frustrated and lonely Mishti and a stressed, attacked and angry Lauren who is starting to crack under the pressure. To say that their village has become a pressure cooker is putting it mildly, but as Ciara’s manipulations start to spiral out of control, so too do the alliances and betrayals between the three women.

Ciara is devious and unlikable. While Lauren’s plight is understandable, she can be difficult to relate to. But Mishti absolutely shines. Bose gets right to the heart of what it means to fit in and how protecting oneself against social outcry can often mean making tough choices or siding with people you know to be cruel. However, as the tensions between the women grow, this mostly psychological novel takes on a menacing tone when Ciara ends up dead. There are too many characters who not only would be capable of murdering her, but would benefit immensely from her death. To get to the bottom of who killed Ciara and why, Mishti, Lauren and even their husbands will have to air all of their dirty laundry --- and in this village, it’s the most clean-cut people who have the dirtiest secrets.

DIRTY LAUNDRY succeeds for its tightly woven, intricate character relations and Bose’s skillful unpacking of their motivations and impulses. She is careful never to shame Ciara, letting her interactions with others do the work. Bose is an assured, confident writer. While I can’t say I'd want to hang out with any these characters (aside from Mishti), I also couldn’t look away as they tortured one another through Instagram captions and comments, carefully wielded dinner invitations and well-timed insults.

Perfect for readers of Joshilyn Jackson and Meg Mitchell Moore, DIRTY LAUNDRY is not only a captivating character study, but a fun palate cleanser between darker reads.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on April 14, 2023

Dirty Laundry
by Disha Bose

  • Publication Date: March 12, 2024
  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 0593497406
  • ISBN-13: 9780593497401