2019 published by Thomas Mercer 323 pages, I read the kindle edition
More drama llamas running through this book than bulls at Pamplona!
I picked this book hoping to get a sense of small town Alabama, and a good mystery in the mix… instead, I know more about the Keurig machine in the police station in an ‘old man vs new tech’ trope than I do about the building itself. The characters themselves are drawn straight out of central casting and never really developed past their tightly confined narratives… they boarder on base stereotypes. .. and as far as the ‘mystery’ goes, the only red herring will be found in a jar of cream sauce in Delaney’s pantry…
The story is about Violet, as she returns home from her stint in a halfway house having been interred at a mental facility for ten years following her witnessing the death of her best friend… or is she more than a witness? She is presented as a troubled soul who takes solace in her superstitions and talismans. And she has her reservations about returning to her home in Normal, a small Alabama town, to claim an inheritance left by her mother.
Waiting for her there are her evil step-sister Delaney and her father, an alcoholic with rage issues now showing signs of dementia. I characterize Delaney as ‘the evil step-sister’ because that is how she is presented by every character that narrates their interactions with her… and she is true to that stereotype.
The story is narrated in the first person and predominantly by Violet. For most of the time she’s narrating in the present-time, but smore chapter are set in the past, mostly ten years ago when the death of her friend Ainsley occurred. Other characters narrate scenes from their points of view, Delaney, Hyacinth (Her mother), Boone (the detective)… but even though the narrator changes, the ‘voice’ doesn’t change. Its as if all these characters sound the same.
Since is was an Amazon April recommendation I didn’t want to just shelve it. But, at about the halfway point I was able to push the throttle down and go right into skimming mode, just to get through this.
As for the theme in all this? Quite simply, the ends justify the means. Cue music, roll credits…
“You were rude,” she accused. Her eyes rked over me. “And why didn’t you wash up? I told you they were coming this afternoon.”
“No, you didn’t.”
“I mentioned it twice at breakfast,” she insisted.
She hadn’t, but I let that go. “Why did you tell them those lies about me having nightmares?”
“they weren’t lies. Every night, you scream in your sleep.”
My anger went down a notch. Was she telling the truth? I shook my head. “If I had nightmares, I’d remember.”
Delany arched a brow. “Do you always remember your dreams or wake up from a bad one?”
“No, guess not,” I had to admit. “Do I really call out Ainsley’s name?”
“You do. Repeatedly. Last night and most every night.”