I have no idea how I ended up reading this book — I think it might have been recommended to me on GoodReads — but I didn’t know anything about it at the outset, except the title and the book jacket cover, which for some reason gave me the impression that it would be a quirky little murder mystery set in a bookstore. Like Black Books, with murrrrrder. That is not what this is. It is a murder mystery, but there is nothing quirky about it. It’s bleak. It’s well written, and the story being told is interesting enough, but the characters lack personality and depth. There’s no sense of humor. There’s not much personality at all to it, in fact. It’s purely plot driven, and it makes for a quick and somewhat satisfying read, but it leaves no lasting impression.
It’s about a woman named Lydia Smith who works at a book store. While closing the store one night, she finds the body of a friend hanging from a noose and, in his pocket, he has a picture of Lydia as a child. That murder, however, is not the driving force of the novel. It’s another unsolved murder that takes place in Lydia’s childhood at a sleepover when a man comes in with a claw hammer and murders everyone in the house except for Lydia. The murder, and the suicide 20 years later, are ultimately connected, and there are plenty of twists and turns to keep readers engaged, but the book could’ve benefited from more personable characters. I was invested in the story much more than I was ever invested in the people the story was about, all of which is to say that it was fine.