I love books that begin at the end, and this one does just that. In the first two pages, we find out that a woman – Preston Kelly – has been seriously injured at a cabin by a river. For the rest of the book, we read trying to find out how that happened. The structure compels me to keep reading.
The story centers around the kidnapping of little girls on a small island off the coast of Seattle. Preston Kelly, a native of the island, and Severin Ash, the kidnapping specialist on the case, are both working through their pasts as they begin to work together to find out exactly what is happening here. It’s quite an intricate character structure around this simple plot – lots of investigators and peripheral characters on the island. Don’t let the old “thriller” plot fool you – this isn’t a story that’s easy to figure out.
There are a couple of areas that I expect Corso will improve in when writing her next novel (this is her first.) The complex character structure and parallel stories make for interesting reading, but sometimes it’s hard to follow and the switching between stories seems arbitrary occasionally. Also, Corso doesn’t always signal how much time has passed between scenes. Thus, I kept assuming events were happening the same day, when in fact, a couples days might have passed. In a mystery/kidnapping story, where I have been taught to know that “time is of the essence,” this was a little distracting.
That said, I really did enjoy the book. It reminded a lot of Harper’s Island, that TV series that was only one for one season. I’m sure part of that association comes from the island thing, but there’s more to it than that. The multiplicity of characters and the shifting sense of suspicion also mirrors that show, a program I really appreciated for it’s ability to be absolutely horrified and invested at every moment. I couldn’t look away, but I really wanted to. There’s some of that quality in Corso’s novel, too.
So pick up a copy if you love mysteries and thrillers, or even if you’re a fan of the Pacific Northwest coast of the U.S. (there’s a great sense of setting), and read away. Just don’t read it alone at night on a dark farm – that I would not recommend.