Kate teaches elementary school children in Tasmania, in a town where her grandparents had lived. Kate is also having an illicit affair with one of her student’s fathers. Things are alright, except for the fact that Thomas’ wife, is a true-crime author. She moved to the area to research and write about the murder of a young girl. The young girl was murdered by the jealous wife of her lover. The wife then disappeared.
The book was the talk of the town. The small, quiet town, wanted to forget about the terrible tragedy that had occurred years before. They wanted to forget the affair, the murdered girl, and the missing woman. They were a bit angry that an outsider had dredged up this awful past and published it for the world to read, but the news soon died down.
Kate on the other hand, had her own interpretation of events. She supposed that maybe the jealous wife had lived. How had she found out? What had happened? As Kate thinks more and more about the murder of a young woman, seemingly in a very similar situation to her own, she begins to fear.
What if her lover’s wife intended to play the story out again? What if she was to be a victim, much like the previous girl? There are too many similarities and Kate’s mind gets bogged down with each of them. Is it real? Or is she imagining it?
Ultimately, something does happen, which is expected and unexpected at the same time.
What I liked
I thought this book was an interesting way to tell a story. Interspersed in the chapters are short stories involving animals investigating the crime. They each have their own names and duties in the investigation.
This is a really neat question. If a terrible crime occurs in a small town, how does the town proceed in the future? How do the people feel about this crime? Does this one terrible crime begat more crime? Just because one terrible, passion-induced, affair-murder happened in the town, does that mean it’s more likely to happen a second time, or a third time? If someone writes a book about your small town and this terrible crime, how do you feel about it?
These are all great questions to answer in a book.
I liked that so much of this book was psychological. Real life is something, but if you can tell a story where the reader isn’t really sure if you’re in real life or someone’s head, you’re doing a good job. That line is blurred, a bit, in this story.
What I didn’t like
For all the cleverness in how this story is told and what questions this story answers, it’s not an easy read. This book took me much longer to read than it should have. It’s not a very long book. It didn’t flow. There was a lot of local history in the book, and while I am glad for it, I also feel it slowed the book down.
Kate is sympathetic to a degree, but not overly likable. Look, if she wants to be a “good girl,” why in the heck does she think it’s ok to have an affair with a student’s father? She’s old enough not to be pulled in by words, or she should be. With all this said, there is no reason for the town to think her this terrible person for having sex with one person. If we were terrible people for having sex with one person, a lot of us would be terrible people. Yeah, it’s bad that someone has an affair, something I hope I never have to deal with, but there is accountability involved for both parties. Kate gets her name scrawled on bathroom walls for a good time, but Thomas gets…nothing, seems a bit one-sided.
It’s a clever book, but it’s not a page-turner.
What do you think Kate goes on to do with her life?
Do you think men like Thomas ever get what’s coming to them?