Some books take a good fifty or more pages to grab you (indeed, some never grab you at all!) But this book grabbed you from the very off, didn’t it?
It absolutely did! The premise is that Jo, a journalist who has worked in war zones, but is now in the much duller and safer world of PR, receives a cutting appearing to be from a newspaper about the disappearance of her schoolfriend, Sam, who disappeared 27 years previously. On the back was written two words in red, “Find Me.”
Jo had fled her small town of Clear Springs, Minnesota, with the intention of going to New York and becoming a famous writer. She had been a successful journalist, but that much boasted-of novel never appeared. So she decides to take a sabbatical from work and return to the one place she said she’d never return to, and perhaps solve the mystery once and for all…
Tell us a little about Jo’s life in Clear Springs at high school…
There’s a very small, tight-knit group – Jo, Sam, and another friend, Amanda. Sam, the most obvious beauty of the three, was dating Doug, the “most wanted” of their year when it came to high school boys – your typical American jock. Jo also was very close friends – platonically – with Jack, her next door neighbour, whose family gave her refuge from her father’s bad temper which made her own home a living hell.
I must admit, the small cast of characters made it easy to keep tabs on who’s who. Events after Sam’s disappearance – no spoilers! – make Jo a great unreliable narrator, having to be reliant on what she’s told by those who remain in the town.
And someone very important to the story isn’t there…
Yes – Jo discovers her other best friend, Amanda, was killed in a car crash not long before she arrived in town. Jo’s surprised to learn that Amanda had ended up marrying Doug, and was heavily pregnant when the accident happened. However, those close to her believe it was no accident, but that she was murdered.
The creepy thing is, she had received the same cutting Jo had, and was investigating Sam’s disappearance too at the time of her death. So when Jo receives threatening messages, and someone tries to run her off the road too, she starts to wonder if there’s a killer in the town determined to make her his third victim…
Also, it appears Sam’s apparently perfect family was all a facade, hidden by the power the family exerted over the town with their affluence – something which had gone over Jo’s head as a schoolgirl, but which she soon learns about on her return.
There is a small supernatural influence to the book, which you will either enjoy, or feel is being used to fill in explanations the author couldn’t in any other way. Crime purists may find it slightly irkling but it’s a tiny criticism in a book you will otherwise gobble down.
I have a real passion for American small-town stories, with family secrets and odd characters (Megan Miranda is my favourite, and this definitely comes pretty close!) Moncrieff has a definite skill of dropping enough hints that the mystery remains tantalisingly out of reach of being solved for much of the book, as well as misdirecting the reader like an old pro. Intriguing characters, and the fact that this is an incredibly fast and enjoyable read, ensure I’ll be looking out for other works by Moncrieff!
A thoroughly enjoyable small town mystery, which I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to fans of such stories!
With thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate in this blog tour, and to Flame Tree Press for the eARC. These have not affected my review in any way, and this reflects my true opinion.
Author J.H. Moncrieff
Check out what my fabulous fellow bloggers made of Dragonfly Summer!
BLURB: Dragonfly Summer is a gripping thriller that asks: What happens when the past comes back to haunt you? Jo Carter never thought she’d return to Clear Springs, Minnesota. But when the former journalist receives a cryptic note about the disappearance of her friend Sam twenty years before, she’s compelled to find out what really happened. During her investigation, she learns another high school friend has died in a mysterious accident. Nothing is as it seems, and Jo must probe Clear Springs’ darkest corners and her own painful and unreliable memories to discover the truth – and save herself from the killer who could still be on the hunt. Deliciously twisty and suspenseful from the first minute to the last, Dragonfly Summer proves that no small town’s secrets can stay buried for good.