In the second of a projected trilogy, Young’s clairvoyant protagonist investigates the murders of her mother and half sister.
When we met Charlotte Cates in the series opener, Gates of Evangeline (2015), we learned that she was abandoned by her mother, Donna, who disappeared into a haze of drug addiction years ago. Charlotte, a magazine editor, has moved from Manhattan to Texas to live with landscaping entrepreneur Noah, whom she met in Evangeline. She’s pregnant, with an imminent due date, but is still mulling over Noah's marriage proposal. And she’s still plagued by recurring lucid dreams which predict disaster. Shortly after she dreams of a small child wandering in the desert, she learns her mother has been found murdered along with Jasmine, a half sister Charlotte didn’t know she had, in Jasmine’s Tucson apartment. Charlotte and Noah drive to Tucson intending to adopt Jasmine’s 6-year-old daughter, Micky, who turns out to resemble the child in Charlotte's dream. Charlotte learns more about her mother from her lesbian partner, Pam, a police lieutenant. Donna and Pam met in AA, and Donna had become indispensable at Sonora Hope, a nonprofit dedicated to helping impoverished Mexican women. Jasmine was a serial partier who narrowly escaped brushes with the law, thanks in large part to a cop boyfriend, though drugs were found at the murder scene. Road trips to Mexico take up significant space in the book. Charlotte and Noah travel to the Mexican resort where Micky’s father, Ruben, works to find that he is neither a murder suspect nor particularly interested in parenting. Another dream, about a bloody shower stall, and a vision concerning Lety, a Sonora Hope client who committed suicide, twice send Charlotte to the Mexican side of border town Nogales. The stories of the Mexican women, including Lety’s sister Yulissa, who struggles to escape a bleak existence as a landfill scavenger, are more interesting than the main plot. Other complications do not so much present an intriguing puzzle as mislead readers, which is why the ending feels so unexpected and contrived.
A road novel with too many detours.