About the Book:
Claire is only seven years old when her college-age sister, Alison, disappears on the last night of their family vacation at a resort on the Caribbean island of Saint X. Several days later, Alison’s body is found in a remote spot on a nearby cay, and two local men – employees at the resort – are arrested. But the evidence is slim, the timeline against it, and the men are soon released. The story turns into national tabloid news, a lurid mystery that will go unsolved. For Claire and her parents, there is only the return home to broken lives.
Years later, Claire is living and working in New York City when a brief but fateful encounter brings her together with Clive Richardson, one of the men originally suspected of murdering her sister. It is a moment that sets Claire on an obsessive pursuit of the truth – not only to find out what happened the night of Alison’s death but also to answer the elusive question: Who exactly was her sister? At seven, Claire had been barely old enough to know her: a beautiful, changeable, provocative girl of eighteen at a turbulent moment of identity formation.
As Claire doggedly shadows Clive, hoping to gain his trust, waiting for the slip that will reveal the truth, an unlikely attachment develops between them, two people whose lives were forever marked by the same tragedy.
“Did you ever wish something terrible would happen to you so the world could see how strong you are?”
Wow!!! What an impressive debut. I would not call this one a thriller per sebut instead is a wonderfully atmospheric mystery, with rich character development.
This is a slow-burn mystery, unlike any book I’ve read before. The story centers on the disappearance and death of eighteen-year-old Alison at a resort on the fictional island of Saint X. Told in multiple points of view and with alternating timelines, the story in particular focuses on the effects of Alison’s death on her younger sister Claire. Only seven years old at the time, Claire never really knew her sister, and remains profoundly traumatized by her death.
“You can’t bring the stars.”
“You can’t carry them.”
“I’ll bring whatever I want.”
At the time of her death, the police on Saint X had quickly rounded up two of the resort’s workers Edwin and Gogo, who were possibly the last people to see Alison alive. But, it turns out, her death remains unsolved decades later. Alison’s death brought intense media attention to the family and for years remains the topic of online and public attention. The book shifts forward to Claire as an adult, and examines the different perspectives of those involved with her family. I did not expect such a profound examination of grief and class differences, and was pleasantly surprised and captivated by the story.
Claire becomes obsessed with one of the individuals who was accused of killing Alison. She has drifted away from both her family and her friends in her obsession to somehow develop a bond with her older sister. I loved the author’s incredibly vivid descriptions of life on a Caribbean island, and loved the different points of view. This book is not a fast-paced thriller but still kept me turning the pages until the very end! I could not wait to see where the story would end up. I enjoyed this book immensely and felt deep sympathy toward all of the characters.
Bravo to Alexis Schaitkin for an incredibly well-done debut novel!
Thank you to the publisher for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.