Quick one for today, post-gorgeous holiday weekend. It’s a blend of suspense, mystery, ghost story, and family story told with rich prose and a haunting tone–All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage.
At the beginning of the story, George Clare finds his wife murdered in their old farmhouse in upstate New York. He’s the immediate suspect, but his parents manage to bail him out, and the police can’t get enough evidence to bring a case against him.
From there, the story goes back in time to show the backstory of the Clares and the story of their marriage, and how the murder is just the latest crime in a string of them. We also learn the story of the Hales, who owned the farm before the Clares moved in. Soon the story shifts to more of a “how-dunnit” than a “who-dunnit,” blending with the story of a poor small town and the people who try to survive there. There’s also just a hint of the supernatural, but just enough to add another dimension to the story and characters.
The sense of place and the atmosphere is wonderfully evocative–the whole book feels cold, a little desperate, a little bleak. The intense moments sneak up on you. This is a very rich, well-crafted story, with strong characters and a good dose of atmosphere. The pace is slow, but the characters and the mystery keep the story going.
If you enjoy the Dublin Murder Squad books by Tana French, or the slightly-otherworldly intricate suspense of Jennifer McMahon, give this one a try!