On this hot, muggy morning, I’m sipping a steaming cup of chai tea and enjoying some fresh fruit as I gaze upon my coffee table, which is covered, literally covered, with books to read. It is a little daunting to think that this mess of piles represents what I hoped to read over the summer, children’s book, young adult books, Canadian books, review books, book club books… where do I start?! But enough about “what I'm going to read next” - I need to focus on “what I just read”.
What I just read was the latest novel by Linwood Barclay, Broken Promise. After the death of his wife, former newspaper reporter David Harwood tries to make a new start in Boston with his nine-year-old son Ethan, but finds that he is spending more time at his new job than at home, so he uproots them once again and returns to his hometown of Promise Falls, only to lose his job on his first day back as a reporter for The Standard. Feeling that his life is in free fall, David moves back into his childhood home with his parents, and, with no job prospects in sight, sees no way to change his situation. He unwittingly becomes involved in a family mystery when, while delivering a food package to his cousin Marla, who has recently lost her baby in childbirth, he discovers that she is raising a baby boy that she claims was given to her by an angel. This is further complicated when the mother of the baby turns up dead, murdered in her home. David is asked by his parents to do a little digging and ask around to try to find out what really happened before Marla is charged with the woman’s murder. At the same time, other strange things are happening in Promise Falls. Twenty-three dead squirrels are found strung up along a fence in one of the city’s parks. On a nearby college campus, women are being attacked at night, although they are not actually being harmed. And a strange incident occurs one night on the ferris wheel at Five Mountains, the amusement park that has recently shut down. Are these events linked? And if so, how? David races to uncover the truth even as he struggles to determine who he can trust. This is the first book in a trilogy, a complex, multi-layered mystery with a real small-town feel. I’m not a huge Barclay fan, and when I started reading this book, I felt a strange sense of deja vu, because many of the characters seemed familiar. As I read further, I realized that these are, in fact, the same characters, in the same small town, that were in earlier books I’ve read, including No Safe House, No Time for Goodbye and Never Look Away. Considering this is being marketed as "the first in a trilogy", I was thrown by this recurrence of characters, as I expected a brand new story and setting, and I felt that having read the previous books definitely helped me to appreciate and understand this book more fully. I’d be curious to find out whether a first-time Barclay reader would enjoy this book, not knowing any of the backstories. Despite my misgivings, I finished this 484-page book in 3 days, it was that un-put-down-able. And because there are two more books to follow, this page-turner kept this reader guessing to the very last page, and beyond.
I’m not sure what to do in terms of next books. I have a book club meeting for my “friends” group coming up a week from tomorrow, but it’s a book I’ve read before and I think this is too early to start reading it again. I’m off for the summer, so I have lots of reading time, but my husband is on holidays this week, too, so we’re away for a couple of days, which means less reading time. I’ve started an interesting book by a British writer I’ve never read before, The Past by Tessa Hadley, which is really well-written and reminds me of Ian McEwan’s Atonement, at least in writing style. Hmmm… I think I’ll try to focus on the Hadley novel for the next few days, then read my book club book, Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro at the end of the week.
That’s all for today. Happy Summer Reading!
Bye for now…