I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.
I received this book free from the publisher with no expectation of a review and my thoughts below are unbiased towards either author or publisher. This is an Uncorrected Proof, so what I read might not be exactly what gets published.
Lyrical. Meandering. Tragic. Odd.
Those are the first four words that came into my head when trying to figure out how to review this book.
Lyrical because the prose is written like a song, or like a truly beautiful, haunting story set in the deep South (USA). I kept flashing back to Jacob Have I Loved, although I can't for the life of me say why. If it weren't for the heavy use of Australian-specific idioms, slang, brand names, etc., I'd have sworn this was small-town South. As it was, the narrator's voice in my head insisted on having a distinctly Savannah lilt to it.
Meandering because this story meanders. It's not in any rush to get where it's going and if you are, well, there's frustration ahead. The narrator, Jeannie, tells the story in the omnipotent first-person past, as though she was sitting in a rocking chair on her front porch with all the time in the world. This fits in beautifully with the lyrical writing; it's a slow and lazy build-up and its brilliance is in the way the tension slithers in and starts to squeeze, ever so slowly, tighter around the reader. No angst; no inner dialogue.
Tragic because, well, you knew it couldn't end well right? But while the reader and Goodwood find out what happened to the two missing people, there's almost more tragedy when the book ends than there was when it began. Bad things are left unresolved; not everybody in Goodwood gets a happy ending.
Odd. This might be more me than the book. It definitely has a Twin Peaks vibe to it, but also take into account that I've not read anything quite like this before so it feels very fresh, very different and very...odd. I think it's all a good odd though.
If asked about that half star, it's a combination of two things:
1.While I had no idea how the mysteries would end, it was abundantly obvious from the start that:(show spoiler)
2. The romance, while beautifully written, served no purpose to the plot; it did add a touch of lightness, but there was enough wry humour throughout the narrative to keep things from being gothic.
I'll readily admit I opened this book with a lot of trepidation, but Throsby really made it work and I was sucked in completely; this turned out to be one of those ignore-your-husband-when-he's-talking reads, except for when I had to ask him to translate the vernacular, which even after 10 years Down Under was often.
So if a lyrical, meandering, tragic, odd mystery sounds intriguing, and you're prepared for a lot of Aussie-speak, I'd recommend this book without reservation. It's good! (bonzer!)