By Kat Rosenfield
Published January 2023
Delphine (Del) fled to her grandmother’s mansion in Bar Harbor, Maine after her life imploded in New York City. She needs time to not only lick her wounds, but also to visit with her grandmother. To Del, Miriam’s life sounded like a courageous fairy tale and she was hoping some of that magic would rub off on her. But time with her grandmother is something Del doesn’t have a lot of, since Miriam is suffering from ever-advancing dementia. Because of Miriam’s declining health, the family (Miriam’s three children, one son-in-law, and Del) have gathered for what will most likely be the matriarch’s last Christmas.
On Christmas Eve, Miriam wanders out of the house and drowns in the frigid ocean. Was it an accident or did someone deliberately lure the old woman to her death? Despite how wonderful Miriam’s life had sounded, there was also a dark side. As secrets come to light, it becomes obvious there’s any number of people who might have wanted to see Miriam’s life cut short.
I picked up this book because a) I love a good thriller and b) this was comped to “Knives Out”. That’s a pretty high bar to set and I’ve seen several reviewers who think this fell short. Let me start by saying if you’re looking for the same chemistry between the characters, this book comes fairly close (it’s hard to top “Knives Out” for cast chemistry). Where this book does comp well is the general flow of the plot and how the author reveals just how messed up this family is little by little. What looks like it might be a melancholy last Christmas soon ramps up to old grievances being aired and tempers fraying. I’ll also add, on the subject of comps, that the creepy mansion and constant wind blowing outside gave this a bit of a “Daisy Darker” vibe.
The story is told through two timelines: the present from Del’s point of view and the second during Miriam’s life, from her halcyon teenage years through her marriage to the love of her life who died too young. But even in Miriam’s story, there are secrets hidden in words never spoken that give lie to her seemingly charmed life.
While the who of the whodunnit was fairly obvious throughout (although there were a few good red herrings thrown in that made me wonder if I had the culprit correct), I wasn’t sure about the “why”. Turns out, it wasn’t for the reason I thought it was.
A much better read than many reviews led me to expect.
3.75/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐+
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