by Shannon Kirk
Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date : July 23, 2019
Pages : 364
Synopsis From Publisher:
Ever since Lucy was two, she’s been on the run alongside her mother. She’s never understood the reason for a lifetime of paranoia, aliases, and lies. All she understands are the rules: never lock eyes with strangers, never let down your guard, and always be ready to move on.
Finally, after thirteen years and eleven states, their next hideaway seems perfect. An isolated, fortresslike place in the New Hampshire woods is the new home they share with its owner, a gentlemanly pianist, and his lonely daughter, Gretchen. She’s Lucy’s age and soon becomes Lucy’s first real friend.
But Gretchen and her father have secrets of their own—and an obsession with puzzles that draws Lucy into a terrifying new game of hide-and-seek. Lucy’s dark past is about to come calling. And this time, for her and her mother in the house on the hill, it might be too late to run.
The incorporation of dramatics into crime fiction is one of the things I am very picky about when it comes to crime fiction. Too much drama makes the story cheesy and unrealistic. However all stories require some theatrics to keep the reader engaged. With both In The Vines and Gretchen, Kirk has successfully merged drama into crime fiction creating exciting and enthralling reads.
Lucy and Susan Smith have been on the run for thirteen years. Through eleven states, mother and daughter have clung to one another, each being the constant in the other’s life. When Lucy and Susan move to an isolated cabin in New Hampshire, Lucy hopes she can lay down some roots, longing for a more normal life. Their new landlords, a single father and his teenage daughter, are peculiar but seem harmless enough. Soon their landlords oddities take on a more sinister tone. Have Lucy and Susan fallen into a trap set by their dangerous pursuers? Or has the true danger been much closer all along?
Gretchen is told from three perspectives, two adults and a teenager. I am always amazed when an author is able to write convincingly from the perspectives of characters from different age groups. This ability may not be impressive to some, but when an author is able to realistically capture the feelings of both a teenager and an adult in the same book, I am always in awe.
When Lucy and Susan move into the cabin, I could sense Lucy becoming increasingly tired of life on the road. Susan recently allowed Lucy to attend school, her previous education came from home schooling. Lucy has now seen the lives of others. She now knows her life is different. Lucy now wants a life of stability and consistency.
Lucy’s and Susan’s landlords live a life of isolation. They rarely visit town and do not socialize with others. In their landlords Lucy sees what her life could become if she continues to live in isolation with her mother. When Lucy begins to notice the parallels between the relationships a symbolic clock begins to tick, giving the story a sense of urgency. Lucy knows she must find out who or what they have been running from, confront it, and take control of her life.
Gretchen does move at slower pace when describing Lucy’s and Susan’s relationship. This may be difficult for some readers but I urge those readers to keep reading. There will be plenty of twists and shocks you will not want to miss.
* Thanks to Shannon Kirk and Thomas & Mercer for my free review copy of Gretchen*
Murder and Moore Rating :
4 out of 5 Stars