The Boy Next Door
By Meg Cabot
Avon, 2002. 374 pages. Fiction
Although it seems a little trite now, this book was one of the early novels to tell the entire story in email format. Melissa Fuller is always late for work at the New York Journal where she works as a gossip columnist, but this time (as she explains via a series of emails to Amy Jenkins, the evil H.R. boss) she has a good reason. There was an attempted murder of her elderly next-door neighbor, Mrs. Friedlander.
Kind hearted Mel agrees to watch the old lady’s many pets until her nephew, Max, can be reached. Mel is quickly warned by her office colleagues that Max is a notorious lady’s man, but when she finally meets him, he turns out to be down-to-earth and funny—someone she could really see herself falling in love with. Soon they begin to date, but when a mysterious email arrives explaining that Max may not be everything he seems, Mel breaks it off. The only problem is Mrs. Friedlander’s attacker is still out there. Can Mel and Max still work together to catch the killer?
This was a cute and funny read by Meg Cabot who is better known for her teen fiction such as The Princess Diaries. I found the email format equal parts clever and annoying. There are definitely limitations to how the story can play out if you can only read it through what people might send to each other.