In this debut mystery, the residents of a small town in New York must deal with a crime unlike any they’ve experienced before.
Veteran screenwriter Yanno delivers a familiar but page-turning thriller. When an 8-year-old boy goes missing, many neighborhood residents initially assume that he’s simply late for dinner. Before long his corpse appears at the bottom of the public swimming pool—but an autopsy shows that the water in his lungs doesn’t contain chlorine. As in many suspense novels, the tale is told via multiple character viewpoints; in this case, it’s a sheriff investigating the crime, a bachelor hiding a dark secret, and an adolescent boy who knows more than he lets on. The author shifts back and forth between them, giving each character his own unique voice, and ending some brief sections with a cliffhanger—a storytelling device that some readers may find a bit clichéd, but one that provides the story with tremendous forward momentum. Yanno shows an admirable degree of restraint for a first-time novelist, as he gradually ups the stakes while playing with ideas of chance, coincidence and luck. Although many thrillers rely on intellectual battles between brilliant detectives and calculating villains, this mystery hinges on an innocent, seemingly inconsequential lie that ends up breaking the case wide open. This refreshing approach takes the heroes’ and villain’s fates out of their own hands and helps make them more complex; like the young victim, they’re manipulated by forces that are out of their control. This unique, thematically rich premise sets it apart from most other genre exercises. The conclusion wraps up the central mysteries, but leaves certain chilling questions unanswered. Readers may finish the novel wondering if the small town harbors an evil larger than a single crime.
An ambitious, cleverly plotted thriller.