A nurse is hired to care for a comatose patient.
Freya Miller has recently lost her favorite patient to a horrific automobile accident. Depressed, she puts off her lifelong plan to work as a Red Cross nurse in East Timor and applies for a suspiciously well-paying job with the fabulously wealthy Vincetti family. Evelyn and Harlan Vincetti are the owners of a vast conglomerate that uses every means possible to increase profits no matter who or what gets hurt. Their younger son, Elijah, is comatose after a mysterious accident. Aside from caring for him, Freya’s job is to keep her mouth shut and her curiosity buried, something she finds especially difficult once she’s given a key card that opens some but not all of the hundreds of rooms in the Vincetti mansion. Compared to his older brother, Jack, an agoraphobic writer toiling with difficulty on his second book, Elijah has always been the family’s golden boy, handsome, athletic, and multitalented, and his fiancee, Rosaline, is determined to have the storybook wedding she’s dreamed of despite Elijah’s condition. The family may be dysfunctional, but Freya has her oddities, too. She always wears gloves or bracelets to cover up a scar caused by a pineapple cutter, and she suffers from a rare condition that allows her to see sound as color. Freya makes friends with Maria, the housekeeper, and slowly develops a romantic relationship with the reclusive Jack, who joins her in trying to uncover some of the secrets hidden behind the locked doors, many of which turn out to be horrifying and deadly. This first mystery from Donellan (A Beginner’s Guide to Dying in India, 2009) will remind many readers of Tom Robbins’ work: cleverly crafted and overflowing with idiosyncratic characters and mordant humor.
A most unusual mystery, indeed.