Murder mystery set in New England, USA. A fast-paced page turner
‘Milford, Connecticut, is a quiet orderly place to live, a good place to bring up kids, but people are beginning to feel the bite of financial hard times.’
This is the blurb setting the scene, and this book centres on some of these people, mainly unwary women, who resort to ‘get rich’ schemes to solve their family problems. Unfortunately, these schemes – cheap knock-off goods: purses (designer handbags), pharmaceuticals (drugs), and other goods – are run by organised crime syndicates, whose only interest is being paid.
Glen Garber is a family man with an eight year old daughter, whose world starts to collapse around him when his wife, Sheila, fails to return home from night school. When Glen tries to follow her route in his search, he comes upon an accident, cordoned off by police. He sees one of the cars is his wife’s and the police tell him she did not survive. Further, the police suspect Sheila had been drinking and passed out. Two people in the other car – a Milford father and son – were also killed in the accident.
To add to Glenn’s troubles, his building company is feeling the pinch – no new orders – and then a house he had been building is burnt down overnight.
While Glenn tries to make sense of it all – Sheila, was a kind-hearted, intelligent woman who never drove under the influence – his daughter, Kelly, is being victimised at school by classmates, who blame her mother for causing the death of a popular boy.
Sheila’s snooty mother, Fiona, blames Glenn for Sheila’s death and seeks to take Kelly away from him; this is an ongoing conflict throughout the story. When Kelly’s one remaining friend, Emily Slocum, invites her for a sleepover, Glen is apprehensive but agrees. It turns out a bad move – and everything starts to spiral out of control.
Glenn is caught up in a maze of mysteries and more deaths, as he frantically seeks solutions. He finds he cannot trust anyone except Kelly, and feels his whole world crumbling around him…
Characters are well drawn; particularly the sensitive and compassionate relationship between Glenn and Kelly – like most children, she steals the limelight when on stage. Conflict abounds from every page; twists and turns are par for the course, and the reader is taken along a roller coaster of a ride to the unpredictable conclusion.
A few nit-picks:
The prologue didn’t add to the story, it is pointless information – and in some ways is more of a spoiler. I wouldn’t bother to read it – start straight in at Chapter one.
There are ‘unannounced’ POV changes within scenes, some of which worked – others could have been written differently with no loss of impact. Seems like established writers can ‘break rules’ – and to be fair, I suspect most readers would not notice.
The story borders on the edge of credibility – a fictional licence to entertain, and it does that in spades.
The epilogue is also spoon-feeding the reader, somewhat corny – okay, it tidies everything up, but the last chapter ending is good enough.
This is the fifth book by Linwood Barclay, and a real cracker. It’s hard to put down.