As the days get shorter and the nights cooler and longer, it’s time to turn to thoughts of dark deeds, murder and guilt. Not that I’m suggesting any of my readers actually go out and commit murders, but this is a great season to read mysteries and thrillers, and we have some excellent new ones at the Field Library.
Let’s start with Camilla Lackberg’s The Drowning, a twisted story of secrets and blackmail. The main characters are Erica, a successful mystery writer and her husband, Patrick, a homicide detective. Christian Thydell, a protege of Erica’s, has just published a very successful book, but his newfound fame is shadowed by the anonymous threats he’s been receiving. As Erica tries to discover who’s behind those threats and whether they should be taken seriously (as any mystery reader could guess, of course they’re serious), her husband is investigating the disappearance of Magnus, one of Christian’s friends, who turns out to have been murdered after receiving similar threats. Erica and Patrick start delving deeper into the tangled pasts of Christian and his other friends, none of whom is very forthcoming. What are the secrets so deeply buried that these people would rather die than reveal?
Moving from Sweden to Belfast, Those We Left Behind, by Stuart Neville, turns on an especially disturbing murder: a man killed, apparently by his two foster sons, one twelve years old and the other fourteen. The younger one confesses to the murder, insisting his older brother wasn’t responsible, but Serena Flanagan, the detective who investigated the case, never felt entirely confident that justice was done. When Ciaran, the younger brother, is released from prison and placed on parole, the once closed case comes back to life, and the unsettling questions of guilt and innocence, of family ties gone bad, all return to haunt Serena and lead to a shattering and surprising conclusion.
The past haunts the present in The Child Garden, by Catriona McPherson. Years ago, there was an alternative school for unhappy children called Eden in a remote part of Scotland. It closed down after one of the students committed suicide, and now the place is being used as a nursing home, neglected and falling to pieces. Gloria lives next door to the building, because her extremely ill son resides there. She’s isolated and focused only on her son’s condition, until an old classmate from her childhood appears on her doorstep, claiming that a girl from Eden is stalking him and goading him into meeting her at the former school. When Gloria accompanies him, they discover the person he was supposed to meet is dead. Suicide? Murder? Was the classmate being set up as a murderer? Gloria is drawn into the mystery of Eden, the student who died and the students who survived, and how all that relates to the nursing home where her deeply disabled son is living (barely). The book is creepy and atmospheric, and Gloria, while not your usual main character in a mystery, is the sort of woman you’d want at your side if there were a possibility the devil were interfering in the affairs of people.