Publisher: Atria Books
Publishing Date: October 20
Genre: adult fiction, historical fiction, mystery
Living on her family’s gorgeous lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, clever, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented fourteen-year-old who loves to write stories. But the mysteries she pens are no match for the one her family is about to endure…
One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest son, Theo, has completely disappeared. Vanished without a trace. What follows is a tragedy that tears the family apart in ways they never imagined, leaving their estate as empty as their sunken hearts.
Nearly sixty years later, having enjoyed a long, successful career as an author, Alice is now eighty years old and living in London. Theo’s case has never been solved, though Alice still harbors a suspicion as to the culprit. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old estate—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity is sparked and sets off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever.
Alice Edevane is a mystery writer in the making, plotting out stories and taking notes in a tiny journal she carries with her everywhere. But she could never conjure — let alone solve — the mystery that would plague her family for the rest of her life. The youngest Edevane, Theo, disappears in the middle of a massive Midsummer’s Eve party, never to be seen again. Generations later, Sadie Sparrow, a London detective on leave for overstepping boundaries in a child abandonment case, stumbles across the estate in Cornwall while visiting her grandfather. The mystery of the missing Edevane fills her mind, bringing her right to award-winning mystery writer A.C. Edevane’s doorstep.
First off, all hail Kate Morton. Lindsey, Morgan, Jessie, Katie, and I had a wonderful readalong with this book. Feel free to browse #KMflails! Morton delivers a fantastic novel yet again, only more intricately plotted, more points of view, more timelines than ever before. While House at Riverton and The Secret Keeper are still my favorites, Morton would never disappoint me.
The surprise narrator of the story was Eleanor, Alice’s mother. She was a surprise because, well, she’s not mentioned once in the publisher summary. Yet her part in the mystery is key, and she’s an incredibly intriguing character. Her own growth across the book was palpable, and my heart ached for her, the poor mother with the missing boy. What a fantastic storyline for her. Pay attention to Eleanor!
Alice’s narrative, at least in her teen years, was rather irksome. She reminded me of Briony in Atonement — self-entitled author-in-the-making, devising up plots and stories behind every individual and muddling it within a crime scene. I nearly wanted to wring her neck when her young narrative popped up. But older Alice? Quietly hilarious and witty. She’s that sassy grandmother I’m sure everyone wants in life. I nearly envisioned her as a modern day Agatha Christie.
Sadie’s narrative was frustrating at first — why is she on leave? why does she feel guilty? who are these people she keeps mentioning? what do they have to do with the case that got her into trouble? why does the Edevane story bother her so much? — but, as Morton always does, you’re brought around to understand all the hidden layers when Sadie feels its appropriate to expose them.
I can’t say too much without exposing the mystery. But this is a classic Morton piece, where a family mystery tied to a beautiful home all come together in the end. It’s never picture-perfect, but it’s bound to break your heart. It’s such a joy to experience reading all these parallel narratives and how that interconnect up to the final conclusion. I’m looking forward to this hitting the shelves!
Thank you, NetGalley, for providing this book from Atria Books for review!