An unemployed realtor confronts her grandmother’s obsession with a decades-old crime.
Wright (The Curse of Misty Wayfair, 2019, etc.) glosses over the reason Aggie Dunkirk was fired from her high-powered job—something to do with expired licenses for the agents she supervised. The real reason for her career’s demise is to get her back home to live with her strong-willed, imperious grandmother Mumsie. Aggie finds work at a local cemetery trying to recatalog gravesites disturbed by a recent flood, a job that gives her the chance to meet Collin O’Shaughnessy, a charming archaeologist with an accent that places his background somewhere in the former British Empire. Collin helps her cope with the shock of finding a dollhouse diorama in her grandmother’s attic depicting a young girl killed in her bedroom at the end of the Second World War. Wright toggles back and forth between Aggie’s grisly discovery and the story of Imogene Grayson, sister of a girl also murdered in her bedroom at the end of the war, until the two narratives intersect. Both past and present stories feel seriously underrealized because both the settings and events are described mainly in terms of the feelings they provoke in the characters. Even physical traits, like Mumsie’s flashing emerald eyes and Collin’s glowing copper hair, seem proxies for emotions. Where will all this trauma lead? It takes forever to find out.
Reads like therapy notes by a clinician who needs better supervision.