My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I know this comparison has been overused, but allow me another go at it: this book really reminded me of Gillian Flynn a la “Sharp Objects” or “Dark Places.” It’s a gritty, dark mystery with a screwed-up female lead you’re not sure if you can trust. And it’s really very good.
Mia Haas is forced to return to her small North Dakota hometown after learning that her twin brother, Lucas, a high school English teacher, has disappeared amidst rumors he seduced and murdered one of his students – a dancer with a “golden girl” image. But Mia’s convinced that he could never do something so heinous, despite their mother’s own tainted past. And as she finds out when she investigates further, a lot of people in Wayoata are hiding things.
This book has so many things which make it great: a dark atmosphere in a grieving small town; family secrets; murder; and an unreliable narrator who we learn early on has many good qualities, but is also a pill-popper learning to deal with her own drama. These all blend perfectly to create an air of suspicion. Mia finds she can come up with several theories about Joanna’s death – including that Lucas is indeed guilty.
And the ending is….shocking.
But that’s also where my 4 stars come in. The ending is indeed every bit as dark and twisted as the story sets it up to be, but in the back of my mind, I can’t help but think that some of the theories Joanna came up with would have been a more satisfying ending. It’s like, that ending was good, but I might have enjoyed seeing the outcome of another one of Mia’s theories MORE.
But that’s not to say that I hated the ending or anything. It just wasn’t wholly satisfying in the way that, say, “Sharp Objects” was (ONE OF MY FAVES BTW).
But there are clues along the way, and it does wrap things up nicely. Overall, this book kept me hooked from page one. It was a great ride and I look forward to more from this author. She’ll probably be on my “definitely buy” list from now on.