Haunted by dreams of a possible past life, a recovering alcoholic attempts to find her best friend’s killer in this debut novel.
Cassandra “Cass” DiSpirito and Gabriella “Kit” Labastiani have always been fun-loving North Shore girls, raised just outside of Boston and usually found at their favorite coastal bar, The Outrigger—which they, not always so affectionately, call “The Frig.” Cass’ life tragically ends there, as she is discovered beaten and strangled on The Frig’s roof, and Kit, using her skills as a journalist, vows to find her killer. Kit spends her days investigating her friend’s untimely demise, while her nights are filled with strange dreams of Germany in the 1600s, about a charitable country healer named Anke and her persecution by the church as a witch. Counter to Kit’s Roman Catholic upbringing and urged on by her grief, she comes to believe these dreams are the manifestations of past lives, the figures in them earlier incarnations of friends and family, their modern actions—and Cass’ murder—a karmic continuation of events long ago. Through them, Kit sobers up and comes to some level of acceptance and understanding about Cass’ death, even when faced with her killer. Campbell’s book builds on the culture of one of America’s oldest cities, the characters so wonderfully Bostonian that anyone with even a passing knowledge of the metropolis should find them instantly recognizable. The portrayal of Kit’s family, half-Italian, half-Irish, plays with the idiosyncrasies of both heritages with a decidedly un–PC and self-effacing sense of humor. Much of the book explores Kit and Cass’ friendship, beginning in the 1950s and ’60s, traveling with them throughout their years of terrorizing nuns in parochial school to eventually graduating to barhopping and burning gas from Boston to Ipswich. The girls come to life on the page, Kit slightly more well-behaved and intuitive, Cass more capricious and fashion-conscious, each smile-inducing detail of their love further driving home the tragedy of Cass’ death. Kit’s dreams, whether a former life or just a means to cope with her loss, further expand upon the novel’s themes of how vibrant and powerful women are viewed, the unjust and violent retribution they often draw, as well as the shortcomings of the church.
Though presented as a mystery, this vivid tale employs mysticism, Catholicism, and murder to tell the story of a shining friendship.