A woman, haunted by terrible dreams, digs into her grandmother’s past, uncovering a tragic love triangle and a stunning crime.
When 33-year-old Abby Walters, who has been haunted by dreams of being buried alive for years, wakes up with the name Claire Ballantine on her lips, she returns home to Makade, Minnesota, to dig into her family’s past. She'd been feeling restless, anyway, and impatient with her screenwriter boyfriend's hesitancy about getting married. It turns out that Claire was Abby’s grandmother's neighbor, and Abby's mother says she disappeared one day in 1948, never to be found. As Abby digs further, she discovers evidence of a shocking crime the year Claire went missing. Meanwhile, Abby’s childhood crush Aidan Mackenzie is back in Makade after a stint as a St. Paul cop. He’s still a cop but was hoping to leave the violence behind. It’s not to be: a serial rapist is on the loose, and he seems to be targeting women who look a lot like Abby. Soon Abby and Aidan reconnect, and the sparks are undeniable, but the past is about to intrude on the future with tragic results. The present-day narrative is expertly interwoven with Claire’s story, which involves the horrific consequences of an affair gone wrong. Abby’s dreams add a layer of creepiness to Aidan’s investigation, and because Aidan offers to help her research the past, she gets closer to the rape investigation than she probably should, but Abby is no wilting flower. Sardar’s characters are well-developed and her prose is dreamlike, at times reading very much like poetry, making the heartbreaking events of 1948 even more poignant. Readers who find the journey more important than the destination might get more out of this character-driven story, especially since the final revelations, while undeniably horrible, aren’t all that surprising. Nonetheless, this deftly executed study of the dark that lies in the human heart is artfully drawn.
An impressive if flawed debut with a touch of the otherworldly.