Starter House by Sonja Condit

Book Description:

Published: december 31, 2013

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In the vein of Heart-Shaped Box and The Thirteenth Tale, Starter House is a haunting and skillfully told debut novel about a newlywed couple and their first home — a home that seems to be haunted by a very malicious ghost.

Lacey Miszlak grew up homeless; her crazy mother dragged her from one terrible living situation to the next. But now she thinks the pieces of her life have finally come together. She’s pregnant with her first child, and she and her husband Eric have moved into the home of their dreams. She knows soon its beautiful sunlit rooms will be filled with the joy of the new family she will build there.

But there’s a strange darkness on the stairway and an odd little boy who won’t leave Lacey alone, and soon she’s forced to realize that a danger she never suspected is lurking in the hallways of her beautiful new home. She’s going to have to solve a decades-old mystery to save her family from an evil that has lingered in wait for them for years.

Review –

In Condit’s creepy debut, a young couple’s dream home turns out to be haunted.

The cottage at 571 Forrester Lane in the Southern town of Greeneburg is perfect for Lacey and Eric Miszlak. She’s pregnant and wants to be near the best schools; he wants a 20-minute commute to his uncle’s law firm. Lacey brushes aside the spooked reaction of their broker (who knows more than she’s telling) but discovers after they move in that the house harbors a ghost: Drew, a needy little boy who asks her to be his mother. Lacey, a former elementary school teacher, prides herself on being good with difficult children, but she quickly learns to fear Drew’s rages and his hostility toward her unborn child. “The thing in the house. It eats babies,” blurts out the broker’s daughter. The trouble started in 1972, when Andrew Halliday killed his wife, three of his four children and himself. Only Andrew Junior survived the massacre; he’s changed his name to Lex Hall and has retained Eric in a custody battle over his young daughter. Yes, it’s a lot of coincidences to swallow, and Drew’s ability to travel as far afield as Australia seems more convenient than likely even within the parameters of a ghost story, but Condit paints such a convincing portrait of the Miszlaks’ tension-riddled marriage and does such a good job of escalating the menace in Lacey’s encounters with Drew that readers won’t care much about probability. The novel has unusually strong characterizations as well, in particular the depiction of Lacey’s New Age–y mother, Ella, who proves to be stronger and more protective than her daughter could understand in childhood. Eric too, controlling and overcautious though he is, comes through with flying colors in the violent denouement at the top of the stairs that have seen so many previous deaths.

Good, scary fun, packed with emotional nuance.” Kirkus Reviews

Fantastic read!

 

 

 

Freefall by Jessica Barry

Book Description:

Published: January 8, 2019

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A propulsive debut novel with the intensity of Luckiest Girl Alive and Before the Fall, about a young woman determined to survive and a mother determined to find her.

When your life is a lie, the truth can kill you

When her fiancé’s private plane crashes in the Colorado Rockies, Allison Carpenter miraculously survives. But the fight for her life is just beginning. For years, Allison has been living with a terrible secret, a shocking truth that powerful men will kill to keep buried. If they know she’s alive, they will come for her. She must make it home.

In the small community of Owl Creek, Maine, Maggie Carpenter learns that her only child is presumed dead. But authorities have not recovered her body—giving Maggie a shred of hope. She, too, harbors a shameful secret: she hasn’t communicated with her daughter in two years, since a family tragedy drove Allison away. Maggie doesn’t know anything about her daughter’s life now—not even that she was engaged to wealthy pharmaceutical CEO Ben Gardner, or why she was on a private plane.

As Allison struggles across the treacherous mountain wilderness, Maggie embarks on a desperate search for answers. Immersing herself in Allison’s life, she discovers a sleek socialite hiding dark secrets. What was Allison running from—and can Maggie uncover the truth in time to save her?

Told from the perspectives of a mother and daughter separated by distance but united by an unbreakable bond, Freefall is a riveting debut novel about two tenacious women overcoming unimaginable obstacles to protect themselves and those they love.

Review –

We meet Allison when she emerges from the wreckage of her fiancé’s aircraft in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. There is a man near her – his face is missing. Her body is bruised, her rations almost non-existent. Yet Allison reminds herself to move, breathe and walk. She has a plan, which takes her trekking in the Rockies in a pair of leggings, a sports bra and a T-shirt, with four Luna bars and a bag of mixed nuts in her bag. Allison walks, sleeps and somehow survives in the Colorado mountains. Anyone in her situation would be desperate for help, but – as we soon learn – Allison doesn’t want to be found. There are men looking for her, and they want her dead.

Back in Maine is Maggie, Allison’s mother, who can’t bring herself to believe – despite what news reports say – that her daughter, from whom she had been estranged for two years, died in a plane crash. Maggie’s voice alternates with Allison’s, allowing Barry to show the full dimensions of her characters, and the complexity of unravelling family dynamics.

Alison is desperate as she embarks on a battle to survive, with barely any supplies, full of fear, facing the forests, hunger and inclement weather, whilst danger stalks her every footstep. Will she manage to reach safety and home? Maggie becomes aware of just how difficult and rough Alison’s life became in the two years, right up until her engagement to Ben. Maggie’s storyline eventually connects with Alison as the truth eventually emerges. This is a story of complicated mother and daughter relationships, secrets, deception, betrayal, and intrigue, where little is as it seems. The two protagonists, Maggie and Alison are strong and resilient women, and their characters are compelling. I found this a fast paced, intense and gripping read with twists. It is far from perfect, but it nevertheless held me captive til the end.

The resolution is full of satisfying twists. The ending is unexpected and farfetched but remember this is FICTION. Enjoy it!

Great read.

The Wild Inside (Glacier Mystery #1) by Christine Carbo

Book Description:

Published: June 16, 2015

Format: Audio/Audible

A haunting crime novel set in Glacier National Park about a man who finds himself at odds with the dark heart of the wild—and the even darker heart of human nature.

It was a clear night in Glacier National Park. Fourteen-year-old Ted Systead and his father were camping beneath the rugged peaks and starlit skies when something unimaginable happened: a grizzly bear attacked Ted’s father and dragged him to his death.

Now, twenty years later, as Special Agent for the Department of the Interior, Ted gets called back to investigate a crime that mirrors the horror of that night. Except this time, the victim was tied to a tree before the mauling. Ted teams up with one of the park officers—a man named Monty, whose pleasant exterior masks an all-too-vivid knowledge of the hazardous terrain surrounding them. Residents of the area turn out to be suspicious of outsiders and less than forthcoming. Their intimate connection to the wild forces them to confront nature, and their fellow man, with equal measures of reverence and ruthlessness.

As the case progresses with no clear answers, more than human life is at stake—including that of the majestic creature responsible for the attack. Ted’s search for the truth ends up leading him deeper into the wilderness than he ever imagined, on the trail of a killer, until he reaches a shocking and unexpected personal conclusion.

As intriguing and alluring as bestselling crime novels by C.J. Box, Louise Penny, and William Kent Krueger, as atmospheric and evocative as the nature writing of John Krakauer and Cheryl Strayed, The Wild Inside is a gripping debut novel about the perilous, unforgiving intersection between man and nature.

Review –

Grizzly bears, murder, mauling, and mayhem mix in this author’s debut novel.

Ted Systead’s past and present intersect in an unexpected—and chilling—manner against the gorgeous backdrop of Glacier National Park in Montana. When Systead was a boy of fourteen, his father, a pathologist, was dragged off and killed by a grizzly bear in Glacier.

Now, decades later, Systead is a homicide investigator for the Department of the Interior based out of Denver. When the body of drug user and general low life, Victor Lance, is found shredded by a park grizzly after having been secured to a tree with duct tape, Systead must push back against his own demons to work the case. In the process, he reluctantly teams with Park Officer Monty Harris, who he suspects is little but a spy for his boss, Eugene Ford. But, as they work their ways through the people who populated Lance’s life (his mother, former girlfriend, and others), Systead gains a grudging respect for Monty and finds himself unraveling other peoples’ lives in order to get at the truth.This author likes detail and packs the book with trivia about the park and its wildlife inhabitants, which prove interesting.  The author also provides background details on some of the numerous characters, bringing them to life for the reader/listerner.

This book was stunning from the beginning until the very end. I’ve never been to Montana, or Glacier Park, but let’s just say it’s in my heart after reading this book. Superbly written; it has everything you’d love in a murder mystery, and then some. I’ll say again, if you haven’t heard of Christine Carbo or read one of her books, you’re missing out

Join Special Agent  Ted Systead for the Department of the Interior as he investigates a mind-boggling crime involving a grizzly and a hidden perp. Great twist at the end!

Christine’s writing rivals that of bestselling crime novels of C.J. Box and Nevada Barr.

Five stars !!!!!

 

 

 

Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land

Book Description:

Published: January 12, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Good Me, Bad Me is dark, compelling, voice-driven psychological suspense by debut author Ali Land.

How far does the apple really fall from the tree?

Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school.

But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother’s trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all.

When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother’s daughter.

Review –

“Land asks if we are doomed to repeat the sins of our fathers—or, in this case, mothers—in her assured, creepy debut.

Fifteen-year-old Annie has a new home in London—and a new name, Milly—now that she’s turned her mother in to the police. Psychologist Mike Newmont, his troubled wife, Saskia, and their daughter, Phoebe, have taken Milly in until her mother’s trial begins in 12 weeks. Only Mike and a few others know who Milly really is: the daughter of a nurse who murdered nine young children. Mike will be overseeing Milly’s therapy until the trial and is eager for her to fit into his family. However, Milly, who narrates the book, senses that something isn’t right between Saskia and Phoebe, and Phoebe, along with her friends, immediately starts a campaign of terror against the newcomer, whom she sees as an intruder in her family. Milly does find a friend in a younger girl, Morgan, who obviously has family problems of her own, but as the trial looms, Milly struggles to be the good person she longs to be even as the voice of her mother pushes her to give in to her darker urges. Can Milly find her own way, or is she a slave to her upbringing? Land, a mental health nurse, puts her knowledge to good use in her portrayal of Milly, who was raised by a sexually abusive monster who recruited her to play a role in her unspeakable crimes. A sense of creeping dread drives the narrative, and that most fascinating of crime-novel subjects, the female serial killer, casts a formidable shadow. Milly wages a war within herself that she may or may not win. Readers will be more than happy to go along for the ride and may be surprised how they feel about the conclusion, proving the unmistakable spell that Land has cast.

Sly, unsettling, and impossible to put down.” Kirkus Reviews

Great read with a surprise at the end !

 

 

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

Book Description:

Published: January 9, 2018

Format:   Audio/OverDrive

In 1986, Eddie and his friends are just kids on the verge of adolescence. They spend their days biking around their sleepy English village and looking for any taste of excitement they can get. The chalk men are their secret code: little chalk stick figures they leave for one another as messages only they can understand. But then a mysterious chalk man leads them right to a dismembered body, and nothing is ever the same.

In 2016, Eddie is fully grown, and thinks he’s put his past behind him. But then he gets a letter in the mail, containing a single chalk stick figure. When it turns out that his friends got the same message, they think it could be a prank . . . until one of them turns up dead.

That’s when Eddie realizes that saving himself means finally figuring out what really happened all those years ago.

Review –

Murder, mayhem, and chalk figures in a sleepy English village.

“In 1986, 12-year-old Eddie Adams enjoys spending time with his group of friends: Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Hoppo, and the lone girl in the group, Nicky. He’s largely insulated from his mother’s work as an abortion provider and its accompanying risks, and it’s her income that keeps the household afloat, since his father’s freelance writing jobs are hit and miss. When Eddie finds the decapitated and dismembered body of a local girl in the woods, it stirs up terrible secrets and forbidden passions.

In 2016, Eddie is a teacher who harbors a mild crush for his much younger boarder, Chloe, and isn’t eager to revisit the traumatic events of ’86. He still feels particularly bad about his part in the downfall of a teacher with albinism who was kind to him. When he’s contacted by Mickey Cooper, who claims he knows who really killed that girl, it opens old wounds, and a body count follows.

Readers will undoubtedly be reminded of the kids of Stand by Me and even IT. The dynamics among the kids are similar, complete with Nicky’s flaming red hair, and Eddie’s first-person narration alternates between past and present, taking full advantage of chapter-ending cliffhangers. The chalk markings the group works out to communicate tap into kids’ universal love for secret code and, of course, getting one over on their parents. Things takes a creepy turn when the symbols are twisted to fit someone’s not-so-innocent agenda.

A swift, cleverly plotted debut novel that ably captures the insular, slightly sinister feel of a small village. Children of the 1980s will enjoy the nostalgia.” Kirkus Review

The ending is creepily eerie and changed my mind about Eddie. (no spoilers -you’ll have to read or listen to the book to see what I mean)

Five stars.

The Ruin (Cormac Reilly #1) by Dervla McTiernan

Book Description:

Published: July 3, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

It’s been twenty years since Cormac Reilly discovered the body of Hilaria Blake in her crumbling Georgian home. But he’s never forgotten the two children she left behind…

When Aisling Conroy’s boyfriend Jack is found in the freezing black waters of the river Corrib, the police tell her it was suicide. A surgical resident, she throws herself into study and work, trying to forget – until Jack’s sister Maude shows up. Maude suspects foul play, and she is determined to prove it.

DI Cormac Reilly is the detective assigned with the re-investigation of an ‘accidental’ overdose twenty years ago – of Jack and Maude’s drug- and alcohol-addled mother. Cormac is under increasing pressure to charge Maude for murder when his colleague Danny uncovers a piece of evidence that will change everything…

This unsettling crime debut draws us deep into the dark heart of Ireland and asks who will protect you when the authorities can’t – or won’t. Perfect for fans of Tana French and Jane Casey.

Review –

Dervla McTiernan’s powerful debut  novel has the authentic feel of its Irish setting, which I loved.

In 1993, police detective Cormac Reilly is called to a house in Kilmore, County Mayo, where he finds fifteen-year-old Maude Blake and her five-year-old brother, Jack, alive, and  in an upstairs bedroom lies the body of their alcoholic mother, dead of a drug overdose. In 2013, Jack’s body turns up in a Galway river after an anonymous caller claims he saw Jack jump in. Jack’s girlfriend, Aisling Conroy, is sadly willing to accept the obvious conclusion that it was suicide. But Maude, newly back from Australia, is convinced it was murder. Based on new information, Cormac investigates the now twenty-year-old death of the mother, while Maude and Aisling try to figure out what actually happened to Jack, since the police seem unwilling to. Various other threads in the tightly woven plot lead to rape, child molestation, drug dealing, police corruption, and more murders. The author neatly ties them all together in the suspenseful conclusion. Dervla McTiernan,(I love her name) born in Ireland but now living in Australia, is a writer to watch. 

Five stars.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Book Description:

Published: August 26, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam–a city ruled by glittering wealth and oppressive religion–a masterful debut steeped in atmosphere and shimmering with mystery, in the tradition of Emma Donoghue, Sarah Waters, and Sarah Dunant.

“There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed . . .”

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her new home, while splendorous, is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, always locked in his study or at his warehouse office–leaving Nella alone with his sister, the sharp-tongued and forbidding Marin.

But Nella’s world changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish her gift, Nella engages the services of a miniaturist–an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie and unexpected ways . . .

Johannes’ gift helps Nella to pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand–and fear–the escalating dangers that await them all. In this repressively pious society where gold is worshipped second only to God, to be different is a threat to the moral fabric of society, and not even a man as rich as Johannes is safe. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation . . . or the architect of their destruction?

Enchanting, beautiful, and exquisitely suspenseful, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

Review-

“Jessie Burton’s debut novel, The Miniaturist, begins like many a Gothic mystery before it: An 18-year-old virgin arrives in a strange place, on the doorstep of a great house where she has been invited but does not feel welcomed.

However, the time is not the 19th century, and the place is not a British lord’s brooding manor on the moor. Instead, it’s the autumn of 1686 in Amsterdam, a city then in its Golden Age and a powerful center of world trade.

The Miniaturist is set in much the same world as Tracy Chevalier’s best-selling Girl With a Pearl Earring, a story placed two decades earlier in another 17th-century Dutch city, Delft. But Johannes Brandt, the man at the center of The Miniaturist, is even more of a mystery than the Johannes Vermeer of Chevalier’s story.

When The Miniaturist begins, no Gothic courtship awaits us, for Johannes already has legally married Petronella “Nella” Oortman, a girl from an ancient but impoverished family in another town. Johannes is 20 years Nella’s senior, “a true Methuselah” in her opinion. Still, he’s a wealthy merchant in Amsterdam, a supremely eligible bachelor and even reasonably handsome, making him quite the catch in a world where marriage is the only real option for a Dutch girl of good family.

So the marriage is accomplished, but it has yet to be consummated. Nella arrives in Amsterdam on the Brandts’ second-best barge, alone but for her beloved pet, a little green bird in a cage. The Brandts’ nine-room house, on the prestigious Herengracht canal, contains no husband to greet Nella. Instead, she is met by her haughty sister-in-law, Marin, a saucy maidservant named Cornelia and Johannes’ manservant, Otto — he is a former slave and the first African Nella has ever seen.

When Johannes finally appears, he is kind to Nella, telling her that she has nothing to fear from him. But he’s in no noticeable hurry to bed his young bride. He is an important man, a shrewd, bold merchant sailor whose business might as well be his mistress. In this, Johannes seems not so different from other Amsterdammers, devout Protestants who preach humility but prize wealth and consider business the lifeblood of the city. It’s a place where Joel Osteen’s prosperity gospel would fit right in.

Johannes’ wedding gift to Nella is a huge cabinet containing a sort of dollhouse, an amazing miniature version of their own house. “The accuracy of the cabinet is eerie, as if the real house has been shrunk, its body sliced in two and its organs revealed,” Burton writes. Marin is horrified that her brother has spent 3,000 guilders on it; Nella, while touched by Johannes’ generosity, is perplexed.

Back in her hometown, “Nella had known children who’d been given cabinet houses, but none so grand as this. … Her heart sinks. I am too old for this, she thinks.” The cabinet house, meant for a child to practice housekeeping, “is a monument to her powerlessness, her arrested womanhood. It’s your house, her husband had said, but who can live in tiny rooms, these nine dead ends? What sort of man buys a gift like this, however majestic its casing, however beautifully made?”

Johannes is never cruel, but Nella “wants love,” as her mother used to say mockingly. “She wants the peaches and the cream.” Lacking the lagniappe of romance, Nella becomes obsessed with her cabinet house, ordering tiny accessories and furnishings from the only miniaturist in Amsterdam. Though this mysterious craftsman avoids meeting her, Nella is both enchanted and mystified by the exquisitely worked objects that arrive in each delivery from the miniaturist.

Who is the Kalverstraat artisan who knows every secret of the Brandt household? More importantly, how will those secrets be exposed? For when they are, they tear the Brandts’ lives apart as surely as if the Zuiderzee had once again rushed in and flooded their world.

In The Miniaturist, Burton uses a historical object — the real Petronella Oortman’s cabinet house in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum — as the springboard for a fantastically spun tale of love and mystery. It’s a story that astutely reflects our own age’s obsessions and prejudices, and it’s one not to be missed.” dallas news.com

A wonderfully enjoyable story!

 

 

 

Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt

Book Description:

Published: January 23, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

How well do you really know your best friend?

Kat Grant and Alice Campbell have a friendship forged in shared confidences and long lunches lubricated by expensive wine. Though they’re very different women—the artsy socialite and the struggling suburbanite—they’re each other’s rocks. But even rocks crumble under pressure. Like when Kat’s financier husband, Howard, plunges to his death from the second-floor balcony of their South Florida mansion.

Howard was a jerk, a drunk, a bully and, police say, a murder victim. The questions begin piling up. Like why Kat has suddenly gone dark: no calls, no texts and no chance her wealthy family will let Alice see her. Why investigators are looking so hard in Alice’s direction. Who stands to get hurt next. And who is the cool liar—the masterful manipulator behind it all.

Review –

This book is told from the point of view of Alice, who appreciates the freshness that  new friend,Kat, brings into her mundane family life, giving her a break, but she begins to realize that perhaps Kat is not QUITE as friendly as she seems.

It is very interesting as we see the present Alice being interviewed by the police and the past Alice meeting Kat, becoming friends, and  all the ways their lives entwine – but underneath it all it is just a little off, not quite as bright and bubbly as it appears. Margot Hunt layers it well, genuinely keeping you guessing, especially in relation to the psychology of everyone in this – from Kat to Alice, from both the husbands to the extended family – in the end the outcome is highly effective and the action builds to a huge reveal that leaves the reader wondering which of the two women is more twisted. Fans of psychological thrillers will be very well satisfied.

Fantastic read! Five stars!

You Were Made for This by Michelle Sacks

Book Description:

Published: June 19, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Doting wife, devoted husband, cherished child. Merry, Sam, and Conor are the perfect family in the perfect place. Merry adores the domestic life: baking, gardening, caring for her infant son. Sam, formerly an academic, is pursuing a new career as a filmmaker. Sometimes they can hardly believe how lucky they are. What perfect new lives they’ve built.

When Merry’s childhood friend Frank visits their Swedish paradise, she immediately becomes part of the family. She bonds with Conor. And with Sam. She befriends the neighbors, and even finds herself embracing the domesticity she’s always seemed to scorn.

All their lives, Frank and Merry have been more like sisters than best friends. And that’s why Frank soon sees the things others might miss. Treacherous things, which are almost impossible to believe when looking at this perfect family. But Frank, of all people, knows that the truth is rarely what you want the world to see.

Review –

From what I understand, readers either hate this book or love it because of the subject matter, but when I read some of the reviews it only made me want to read it more to see what all the hub-bub was about.

Yes, the subject matter is disturbing and the storyline is shocking but I must say, I have read other books that were just as subject sensitive but didn’t get all the love/hate reaction. I think, because one of the characters was a helpless infant is one of the reasons some people steer clear of this book and that’s okay. For me, I don’t let taboo or sensitive suspects deter me from reading a book. Unless the book may have triggers for you – step outside your comfort zone and read something daring.

I’m looking forward to reading more by this author.

The Kept by James Scott

Book Description:

Published: January 7, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Set in rural New York state at the turn of the twentieth century, superb new talent James Scott makes his literary debut with The Kept—a propulsive novel reminiscent of the works of Michael Ondaatje, Cormac McCarthy, and Bonnie Jo Campbell, in which a mother and her young son embark on a quest to avenge a terrible and violent tragedy that has shattered their secluded family.

In the winter of 1897, a trio of killers descends upon an isolated farm in upstate New York. Midwife Elspeth Howell returns home to the carnage: her husband, and four of her children, murdered. Before she can discover her remaining son Caleb, alive and hiding in the kitchen pantry, another shot rings out over the snow-covered valley. Twelve-year-old Caleb must tend to his mother until she recovers enough for them to take to the frozen wilderness in search of the men responsible.

A scorching portrait of a merciless world — of guilt and lost innocence, atonement and retribution, resilience and sacrifice, pregnant obsession and primal adolescence — The Kept introduces an old-beyond-his-years protagonist as indelible and heartbreaking as Mattie Ross of True Grit or Jimmy Blevins of All the Pretty Horses, as well as a shape-shifting mother as enigmatic and mysterious as a character drawn by Russell Banks or Marilynne Robinson.

Review –

I don’t know where to start with this one except to say that is the MOST DEPRESSING book I have ever read or listened to (I listened – which made it worse because the narrator made the characters come alive).

Elspeth is a midwife and stays away from home for months at a time and is returning to her homestead, which is a six-hour walk from the nearest town. Once there she finds her husband and four children all dead from gun shots. She is accidentally shot with a rifle by her twelve-year-old son, Caleb, who survived the massacre by hiding and being quiet.

Caleb does the best he can to doctor her wounds but she almost dies. When she is able to stand it he tells her of the three mens with red scarves around their necks who did the killings. She says they must go and hunt them down and kill them. 

Thus starts the saga.

Once arriving in the town they suspect the murders reside Elspeth dresses like a man and gets a job hauling ice and Caleb, who quickly tires of staying all day cooped up in a hotel room, gets a job as a janitor at the brothel.

The things these two endure is amazing and when facts come out about Caleb’s “brothers and sisters” he is not really shocked because by that time he had a suspicion.

Do they find the killers? You’ll have to read the book, but let me warn you it is depressing, especially the ending.

After listening to this, I had to find a “fluff” piece to read/listen because my mind was not ready for another serious tome.