For fans of dual narrative, for fans of social-intrigue kind of mysteries, for a well-done blend of then-and-now storylines that weave together. Must be able to suspend disbelief for one serious plot hole, and be aware the romance is weakly developed.
2018: Morgan Christopher is delivered a bizarre twist of fate when she’s offered an escape from her wrongful prison sentence. With her incomplete art degree, she must restore an old mural with a tight timeline. As she rushes to uncover the mural, she learns of the artist’s descent into madness.
1940: Anna Dale desperately accepts the job states away from her own hometown. With prejudices and secrets thriving under the glamour of Southern charm, more lines are crossed than just the Mason-Dixon. This mural will steal her peace, and possibly her life.
The feeling of doom that hung over this was critical in its success. You don’t know what happened to Anna, but you have a feeling the answer is nothing good. Without that foreknowledge of her insanity, the first half of this book would read as though nothing was really happening. For some, that may still be the case, but trust me: once you’re about halfway, events start happening quite quickly and with significant urgency.
Having dual narratives can be a tricky angle to work, but Diane fit them like a charm. Cliffhangers on one led you into the answer on the other, and little clues between the two of them helped put the full story together. I was impressed with how they built upon each other instead of taking away from each other. Admittedly I liked Anna’s story FAR more, but there were entertaining bits of Morgan’s side, too.
Ok, I gotta say it though, the “romance” was not only unimpressive, but uncomfortable. The three main Moments of Romance were:
1. Morgan telling her guy “I would have given anything to have a dad like you,”
2. a hug she “could only describe as brotherly,”
3. and at the final confession dude tells her he loves her, “and not as a big brother.” The consistent references to him as a male family member were weird for someone with male family members. Even besides that, it was weakly developed at best, and didn’t feel like it added much to the story besides giving Morgan that someone-who-loves-me point in her life. Which also annoyed me, because did she have literally zero friends? She says her parents never loved her and neither did her boyfriend. Girl – there are other relationships besides parents and boyfriends.
That was one aspect holding it back from 5 stars, but more significantly was the way Morgan’s main barrier of time and inexperience was addressed–or, perhaps, completely ignored rather than being at all addressed. I was very frustrated with the way this issue was brought up multiple times, and then suddenly not an issue. More than anything else, that made it hard to really be immersed in the story, which kept it from hitting the fabled five.
See all my reviews! Thanks NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for a free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!