Tag Archives: Murder

Review: The Distant Dead

The Distant Dead

The Distant Dead
By Heather Young
William Morrow, 9780062690814, June 2020, 352pp.

The Short of It:

A really good story, but not at all what I expected going into it.

The Rest of It:

A math teacher is found dead. His body, burned beyond recognition. Young Sal, one of his students makes the grisly discovery. The police determine it’s a homicide but no one has a clue how a mild mannered school teacher could be killed in this manner. Adam Merkel was fairly new to the area. Having only been there for seven months, no one had really gotten to know the man, except maybe Sal, who spent his lunches in Merkel’s classroom as a way to escape the schoolyard bullies and his loneliness and sadness over his mother’s death a year earlier.

This is a sad, tragic story. Although Merkel’s murder is front and center, the loss of Sal’s mother and the tragedy that Merkel faced before his death ties these two characters together in a very special way. When I picked this book up, I thought it was a murder mystery, and although there is a murder to solve, there is a lot more going on in the story than you would imagine.

Sal is a complex kid. He’s mature and able to feel and see things that a child his age might not normally notice. To escape the foster care system after his mother’s death, he’s forced to live with his two wayward uncles. One has an anger problem and the other is a drug dealer. They don’t seem to pay him any mind, as evidenced by his clothing that is too small or the fact that he never has enough to eat. So when Merkel takes a liking to the boy and provides support and friendship that Sal so desperately needs, Sal finds that he will do anything for the man.

Just so you know, there is NO, absolutely NO child molestation in this story. It might seem like that is where this story is headed so I wanted to tell you not to fear, this is not that kind of story. Instead it’s a story about pain and loss and friendship and what it means to be a family.

I enjoyed this story quite a bit.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: A Good Marriage

A Good Marriage

A Good Marriage
By Kimberly McCreight
Harper, 9780062367686, May 5, 2020, 400pp.

The Short of It:

A woman is found dead at the bottom of the stairs. Her husband has been arrested for the crime, but everyone is lying.

The Rest of It:

*No Spoilers*

Zach is married to beautiful Amanda but their marriage is riddled with secrets. After dragging Zach to a party that he does not want to attend, Amanda returns home alone and is murdered shortly thereafter.

When Zach finds himself accused of her murder, he contacts an old lawyer friend, Lizzie to defend him even though she’s never defended anyone in a criminal trial. As Lizzie goes through the motions to discover the truth, she slowly realizes that anyone could have killed Amanda and that Amanda’s past was haunting her the entire time.

A Good Marriage is getting a lot of buzz. The author keeps you guessing the entire time. I thought I knew who the killer was numerous times and was wrong every time. Structurally, it’s tightly written and is an absolute a page turner (read it in one sitting) but I did not care about any of these characters, even Amanda. I don’t think you have to love the characters to like a story but in a murder mystery, I find it’s helpful to at least care about the victim. I felt nothing for her. Everything felt a little too detached for me. The relationships were somewhat shallow, or appeared to be which made it difficult to feel anything for these people.

I’ve read McCreight before. You may remember Reconstructing Amelia. That one had a lot of drama but I remember feeling empathy for the characters. That is the only thing I felt was missing here. In the end, I appreciated how quickly the story was told and for the author’s skill at keeping the big reveal a secret right until the end but had I felt a little more for these characters I think I would have enjoyed it even more.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.