Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Book Review: The Child Garden by Catriona McPherson

The Child Garden, by Catriona McPherson, comes out on September 8, 2015, from publisher Midnight Ink. Catriona is the author of the Dandy Gilver Mystery series, a wonderful set of books that take place in 1920s Scotland, featuring a tough, independent female detective. I’ve read every book in the Dandy Gilver series, and have reviewed one here on Mystery Playground. I think Catriona is a wonderful writer and I was very interested to branch out to read one of her standalone novels. Boy was I glad I did.

More than 20 years ago, a tragic event happened at a remote boarding school called Eden, when a group of children decided to sleep out in the woods one night. When morning came, one of them was found dead at the bottom of the ravine, and the others were baffled at what could have happened to him. The school was closed and the children went their separate ways. The police ruled the death a suicide.

Presently, the old school has been re-opened as a care home.  Gloria lives in a cottage near the home and visits daily to be with her son, who is suffering from a genetic disease that leaves him a total invalid. One night she is visited by an old friend from her own school days. Stig tells her about the incident at Eden all those years ago, and she finds out that he was one of the children present when the boy died. In addition, he has been contacted by another of the children who was there that night, and she has asked that they meet.

Stig tells Gloria that he remembers something from that night that no one else could corroborate. That is, until the recent contact from his school mate. As Gloria gets involved in Stig’s meeting, she finds out that two of the other witnesses to that fateful night have been found dead. It’s unclear if they were accidental deaths or suicide, but she and Stig agree that it’s way more than a coincidence. When the school mate who contacted Stig is murdered, they realize that just because 20+ years have passed, it’s not over. Gloria and Stig try to track the children down one by one, and they slowly learn more information about what actually happened in the woods. Not all of the stories coincide and this is not only confusing, but suspicious.

I can describe this book with one word: mesmerizing. I started it and it immediately sucked me in and I couldn’t put it down. The characters were different than any you’ll ever meet, and their stories had a magnetic pull. The setting, Northern Scotland, adds another layer to things. The dark, rainy, remote aspects of it made me want to pull up a blanket, check to make sure the doors were locked, and read straight through to the end.

I’m not going to say that I liked this book better than the Dandy Gilver series, because trying to compare them is like apples and oranges. This book really blew me away. The author has an amazing skill for telling a story, and the imagination to create a book that is like nothing you’ve ever read.

You can see what drink author Catriona Mc Pherson matched with the Child Garden here. 

This book was provided to Mystery Playground by the publisher. The review is fair and independent.


1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a fabulous book, I'm going to have to read it and recommend it to my mystery book club.