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Stone Cove Island

I picked up this book as a result of it’s been compared to Stephen King and The Stepford Wives–one among my favourite writers, and one in all my favorite books. Bonus: at 241 pages Stone Cove Island promised to be a fast, and hopefully thrilling, read. Nicely, it’s quick…

And sure, like King’s Delores Claiborne, it takes place on a small New England island full of buried secrets. And yes, as in Stepford, Stone Cove Island is residence to a nefarious secret society devoted to preserving the city image good. Add to this a hurricane, an enigmatic hate letter, a 25-12 months-outdated unsolved homicide, plus one Nancy-Drew-and-Hardy-Boy-esque duo, and Stone Cove Island seems primed to be a thrill-ride of a mystery. Unfortunately, this story promises a level of sophistication past what it ultimately delivers.

The opening chapters are haunting and fascinating in their very own, salty manner. First, (by way of a diary entry written by our narrator’s mother, Willa) we learn about Bess, a teenager who was murdered on the island again in the 1980’s and the hateful letter Bess obtained just days earlier than she died. Next, we flash forward 25 years to our narrator, Eliza, as she deals with the aftermath of a hurricane that simply ravaged her island. As Eliza walks the debris-littered streets, we are introduced to the quaint and remoted island of Stone Cove. It’s here (and sadly, solely here) that the story shines with authenticity. We get a vivid image of a detailed-knit, nautical group with strong, conservative household values. We additionally meet Charlie, recent excessive-faculty graduate, aspiring journalist/sleuth, and apparent love interest. Together, Eliza and Charlie determine to do something to assist the town. Whereas cleaning up storm debris within the island’s lighthouse, Eliza discovers the aforementioned letter to Bess, takes it to her dad and mom and learns about the unsolved homicide which has been stored a secret by the island-people all these years. Nutshelled: Bess disappeared, leaving nothing behind however a pile of severed hair and a bloody shirt in the lighthouse; so who killed her and why, and what did they do with her physique? Seems to be like now we have the workings of a mystery here, and Charlie is eager to assist Eliza solve it. Sounds like enjoyable, proper?

Besides, it isn’t exactly. Because solving this thriller involves the stale browsing of lots of library microfiche and Willa’s old diary entries, plus interviewing a number of flat characters who, regardless of their dedication to retaining this secret a secret, are super prepared to gossip and share shades of what we already know. Despite one tepid warning for Eliza to stop snooping if she’s is aware of what’s good for her, there is solely no urgency or tension right here. In any case, this is a 25-12 months-outdated cold case, and the primary suspects (a.ok.a. the leaders of the black anchor society) are usually not all that threatening–seeing as how they never actually threaten Eliza or Charlie.

That said, Stone Cove Island is a web page turner, and throughout nearly all of the story I maintained excessive hopes for a solid ending. Then, about three-quarters of the best way in, things turn out to be onerous to swallow. (Semi-Spoiler) First, out of nowhere, the local authorities reopen the case and Eliza’s mother is hauled in as their #1 suspect. Eliza guesses their suspicion has to do with one thing written in Willa’s diary, but we by no means learn specifics–making the entire `arrest’ really feel like nothing more than a plot device.

Then, it occurs. Eliza and Charlie uncover the big (but ambiguous) clue.

(Large SPOILERS!) Seems, Bess was the one who wrote that hate letter to herself all those years ago. She compiled it out of old English essays she wrote (as a result of, hey, why not?). While the revelation is intriguing, the lightening-quick conclusion that our sleuths arrive at comes Method TOO Easy: Bess will need to have faked her loss of life… It takes Eliza and Charlie one stolen boat journey and a library e-newsletter, they usually track Bess down, piece of cake. Even easier: convincing Bess to return to the island to show herself in after she swears to them she will never return to the island. It pretty much performs out like this:

Bess: I will never return to that horrible island. (Finish Chapter)

(Subsequent Chapter) Bess returns to the horrible island–“although it took some convincing.” …That is actually all we get.

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Like the remainder of Stone Cove Island, this ending had some serious potential. However, in the end, due to an absence of vivid plot and character growth it feels contrived, rushed, and hokey like a cleaning soap opera. Not like King and Stepford, there’s not a lot intellectually or emotionally heavy about Stone Cove…even as it manages to sink like a black anchor.

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