When charismatic, brooding aspiring poet and Edgar Allan Poe aficionado Henry North arrives on Parrish Island, Isabelle Austen is smitten. But Henry comes bearing secrets that may spell Isabelle’s death.
Having left her job in publishing in Seattle following a divorce and her mother’s death, Isabelle has returned to Parrish to sort through her late mother’s effects and take over her small airline business. Once Henry arrives, though, she’s swept up in a whirlwind romance. Much as she adores Henry, doubts begin to nibble, particularly after he convinces her to sell her mother’s house and move in with him. Moving day brings Officer Ricky Beaker to their door. He’s been tipped off that Henry’s past includes two missing women: Virginia, his former fiancee, suspiciously fell to her death while hiking with Henry, and Sarah, his missing and presumed-dead wife, strangely disappeared on a boating trip after an argument. Although cleared in both cases, Henry has not escaped suspicion. Luckily, Isabelle learned from her abusive mother how to protect herself from predators, how to distract and placate them. Meanwhile, practically on the other side of the globe, a professor Weary runs the New Caledonia Corvus Research Facility and Sanctuary. But Weary isn’t just studying the habits of crows. He’s monitoring Henry’s every move, studying Visa statements and photos posted online. Alarmed that Henry is seducing new prey, Weary makes contact, sending Isabelle incriminating evidence of Henry’s crimes. Caletti (Essential Maps for the Lost, 2016, etc.) masterfully links Isabelle’s and Weary’s growing anxiety, ratcheting up tension through dark imagery and sentences that twine and twist as they explore Isabelle’s psychological cage. In Caletti’s capable hands, Poe’s raven metamorphoses into murders of crows, foreshadowing not only the mayhem Henry brings to Parrish Island, but also the vengeance being wrought from New Caledonia.
A darkly enchanting romance sinks into a thrilling cat-and-mouse game.