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by Georgina Cross
Ballantine, August 2023
304 pages
ISBN: 0593496892

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Ten years after teenager Meg Chisholm's death, her family receives mysterious invitations to meet at a remote Oregon house on the coast—where they will learn what happened to Meg on the night of her death. Meg's boyfriend, Cal Hereford, who was convicted in her murder, has finished serving his sentence and recently been released. But even now Cal maintains his innocence.

On the family's arrival at the cabin, a powerful storm hits the coast and a fallen tree blocks the one road out, so the family finds themselves trapped: mother Maureen; father Paul and his new wife, Rebecca; and Meg's two younger sisters, Samantha (Sam) and Alice. Then family friend Geoff Billings, who also had an invitation, arrives, carrying the bloodied, unconscious body of Cal—his car apparently hit a tree during the storm. There's no phone service, so they can't call for help.

Maureen has never forgiven Cal and, were it up to her, he would die that night. Sam, however, looks to save him. Was it Cal who invited them to the house? Did he have a big revelation for them? Even the family is divided on whether he really was the killer or not.

Georgina Cross takes the trope of a group of strangers trapped in a house in a storm and gives it a fresh spin. These are no strangers but a family who knows each other—but how well do they really know each other? Every family member has a secret, but one of them may have the biggest secret at all—since one of them, not Cal, might be Meg's actual murderer.

The story is very atmospheric. Not only does the storm add increasing tension but different items belonging to Meg start showing up at the house. It's almost as if a ghostly presence is haunting the house—or is someone playing with the family?

The story is told through three points of view: Maureen, Rebecca and Sam. I'm not a big fan of shifting points of view and some of the stories became repetitive as they were told through the perspective of different characters. Still, there were lots of twists at the end and thriller fans looking for a quick weekend read or an airplane book will find this book satisfying.

§ Lourdes Venard is an editor for an education nonprofit and a copy editing instructor with the University of California, San Diego. She lives in Washington State.

Reviewed by Lourdes Venard, August 2023

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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