A daughter discovers layers of secrets surrounding her parentage when she returns to Ireland to settle her mother’s estate.
University professor Elizabeth Keane flies to Ireland to clean out her mother Patricia’s house in Buncarragh and ready it for sale. She discovers a box of letters from Edward Foley, the father she never met and whom she was told had died when she was an infant, and realizes she has little idea who Patricia was outside her role as a mother. Nearly all grown children realize this truth at some point, and yet it hits Elizabeth at an especially timely moment, as she’s a single mother to her son, Zach, who is nearing adulthood, and she faces a life just as alone as she perceived her mother's to be. To complicate matters, her mother’s lawyer informs Elizabeth that she has inherited a second property, her father’s house, which prompts a new round of investigation. Interspersed with the chapters about Elizabeth’s questions, other chapters flash back to detail Patricia’s initial correspondence and later relationship with Edward. These sections become increasingly tense as Patricia visits his home and glimpses the sadness and dysfunction that grip him and his mother. In the present moment, Elizabeth’s life also becomes uncertain as she discovers Zach is lying about visiting his father and keeping secrets of his own. Irish television personality Norton (Holding, 2017, etc.) has crafted what turns out to be an ominous mystery for his second novel as two stories about motherhood unfurl simultaneously. At times, the characters seem to almost be running to keep up with the plot twists, which leaves little time for full development or more than surface-level insight into their motivations. Unlike Norton’s first novel, focus is on the plot as the site of intrigue, but affinity with the characters is the cost.
A page-turner well suited for readers seeking a light domestic thriller.