The sleepy, small Southern town of Amaryllis, Mississippi has been shaken up by a series of murders. Elderly women have been killed, all the same way,...moreThe sleepy, small Southern town of Amaryllis, Mississippi has been shaken up by a series of murders. Elderly women have been killed, all the same way, and all left in their closets, giving the serial killer the moniker "The Closet Killer." Recently, though, he's broken his trend by killing a young woman. Three women in the town believe they know who the killer is, and all three believe it to be a different man. Now Tully, Cherrie Mae, and Deena will need to team up to do what the police can't do: solve the case of the Closet Killer.
Gone to Ground is a little out of my usual reading wheelhouse, but I was very glad I took a chance on it. This was a fun, compelling little mystery, complete with a taste of female empowerment and righteous justice. Told from alternating perspectives of the three main women characters, we slowly are given clues, which alone don't mean anything. Each of the male suspects seems like he could be guilty, and I was kept guessing as to what really happened to the victims.
Gone to Ground is chalk full of Southern charm, small-town gossip, and the threat of danger right under the surface. This is being described by some as Christian fiction, but I didn't notice much religion in it, other than the tendency of one of the characters to pray about things. I found the writing to not be preachy in any way, which was a great relief to me. I'd gladly read another mystery by Collins!(less)
The Truth of All Things is exactly the kind of book I always want to read, but so rarely find. This book has many of my personal interests: witches, N...moreThe Truth of All Things is exactly the kind of book I always want to read, but so rarely find. This book has many of my personal interests: witches, New England history, nineteenth-century occultism, a spunky and intelligent special collections/historical society woman, and a countdown to catch a serial killer. Throw in a visit to the local opium den and another to the Danvers State Hospital, and I’m a very happy reader.
There is a lot going on in this book. Racism plays into the plot. Grey is half Native American, and has to continually work in the face of prejudice. There are also clues that point to a Native American being involved with the murders, as well as ties to the prejudices and tensions between the Puritans and the local tribes during the Salem Witch Trials. In the Salem transcripts, the devil is continually referenced as looking like an Indian. Grey has his own personal story of family tragedy, which combined with his exacting and scientific nature, makes him all the more intriguing. Shields’ love of Portland, Maine is also obvious. He revels in the details of the locals and is very successful at tying local history into the story.
I was pleasantly surprised by the characters, which are the real reason this book was such a great read for me. Archie Lean is compelling as the main investigator on the case, but can be overshadowed by Perceval Grey, a man whose demeanor and detective skills are bound to remind readers of Sherlock Holmes. However, for me, the historical society researcher Helen Prescott stole the show. She was witty and spunky, and worked her way into the investigation beautifully. I was very happy to find such a strong female character in a story that could have easily been dominated by the male investigators and the female murder victims. The characters interact with each other beautifully, adding levity to what could have been a book so dark that it would have dragged itself down. Instead, there is witty banter that eases tensions and makes the reader feel like an insider among friends.
The Truth of All Things was pitched to me as appealing to people who enjoyed A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. I think it is more similar to The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe. However, I enjoyed The Truth of All Things more than both of those books. It came across as somehow more intelligent, and with less pretension. Instead of meandering through meals and conversations, every page of this book supports and adds to the plot. The writing is tight, and is therefore easy to read without ever feeling like Shields has written down to his audience. There are plenty of twists and turns in the plot, as well, and I was not able to guess the answer to the mystery until the big reveal, which made the book all the more fun to read.
The ending leaves the way open for further adventures with Lean and Grey, and considering how successful Shields’ debut is, I am actually excited to see the development of a future series. The Truth of All Things is one of my favorite books of the year so far.(less)
Chap is 16, homeless, and without any relatives or sense of where he came from. When he is mistaken for another boy who has been missing for two years...moreChap is 16, homeless, and without any relatives or sense of where he came from. When he is mistaken for another boy who has been missing for two years, Chap jumps at the opportunity to take over Cassiel’s life and family. However, although everybody is willing to take him in without question, being Cassiel isn’t as easy as it seems. Cassiel disappeared under suspect circumstances, and his older brother may have had a hand in the disappearance. Chap needs to find out what really happened to Cassiel before the family finds out he is an impostor, or worse.
Double is a slow-building mystery that was a fairly quick read. I started reading while on the treadmill one night, and found that I had quickly read half the book. Although information is parceled out slowly, I didn’t feel bored while reading, and I really wanted to see how the family would react to Chap.
I felt that more important than the mystery surrounding Cassiel’s disappearance is that of who Chap is, why he was homeless, and why in the world he could pass for another boy so well that the family wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. It’s clear from the story that they are definitely two different people, and there’s nothing supernatural at work. If you’re curious, you’ll just have to read to find out for yourself.
One thing I loved about this book is that it takes place in England. I always enjoy reading books that come to us from writers outside of the U.S. because the different perspective and vocabulary can breathe life into what might have otherwise been an unremarkable story for me. The setting helped to make it a worthy read. I was also very glad to see that this isn’t part of a series, so I’m not tied down by waiting for more books to be released.
Overall, while it didn’t blow me away, I did enjoy Double, and thought it a fun, quick book.(less)