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by Valerie Geary
William Morrow, October 2014
327 pages
ISBN: 0062326597

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In her debut mystery novel, Valerie Geary has brought something new and exciting to the mix. Told in alternating chapters from the point of view of two young sisters, the story sketches out the events of a traumatic year in their lives and a summer they will never forget.

Still broken-hearted from the recent death of their mother, the girls go to live with their father, which means a real adjustment from a life in the suburbs to life along Crooked River. Their father, a recluse who lives in a teepee in an abandoned farm field, raises bees and keeps mostly to himself. He's traumatized by past events that forced him to split from his family for a life of solitude in nature.

Shortly after arriving at Crooked River, the girls discover a dead woman's body near their favorite swimming hole, a discovery that threatens to tear apart their family and their own lives as they seek to uncover what really happened. The quick pace of the unfolding events will keep readers thoroughly engaged, and soon it becomes just as important to learn family secrets as the motive behind the women's death.

Geary has done a remarkable job with both her storyline and her character development. There's a bit of the story that requires a suspension of rational thinking, but even this does not detract from the fundamental suspense created by the author or lose those of us readers that prefer our stories based on the fundamentals of reality.

This is an excellent first foray into the literary landscape, mystery or not.

Christine Zibas is a freelance writer and former director of publications for a Chicago nonprofit.

Reviewed by Christine Zibas, October 2014

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