British author Grindle debuts in hardcover with this slow-to-ignite, if serviceably suspenseful, tale about twin sisters who grow up in rural Georgia sharing a telepathic kinship and the same besotted serial killer.
Red-headed twins Marina and Susannah “Shoo Fly” DeBreem, children of a single working mother, recognize that they are “nightspinners,” that is, they can communicate directly into each other’s heads without speaking. Close when young, they grow estranged in adulthood, mostly because Susannah chooses to forge her own identity as a designer of restaurants in Philadelphia, despite Marina’s desire to move back to Georgia together after their mother dies. Marina, however, is brutally murdered, stalked by a killer who learns her every move. And a year and a half later Susannah begins to receive the same troubling treatment: the word “bitch” is gouged into her car door; a mysterious intruder clips a lock of her hair while she’s sleeping and pastes it to her bathroom window; flowers are sent with cryptic messages. By patient increments, paperback-mystery novelist Grindle builds her story, drawing on childhood memories shared by the two sisters and gradually introducing suspects in the form of old boyfriends and Marina’s startling, jealous female lover. Susannah, whose refusal to talk to her sister over 15 years receives scant explanation, elicits the reader’s sympathy nonetheless: the surviving twin is a woman in her mid-30s, still reeling from the breakup with her fiancé and finding lonely comfort in walking her dog and sharing Chinese take-out with an ambiguous love interest, Beau. The story gravitates around the residents of her Victorian apartment building—developing personalities and motivations—while eventually returning to the locus of the twins’ past, their mother’s farmhouse in Georgia. Grindle is a thorough writer who covers all the bases (nosy southern neighbors, well-meaning colleagues and mechanics, incompetent detectives), though, overall, Nightspinners feels formulaic and cozily generic.
A well-fashioned if unsurprising tale of psychological terror.