A small-town bride goes missing three days before her wedding.
Annie Taft has been the beloved child of Ludlow, South Carolina, ever since her mother was killed and 3-year-old Annie was the primary witness in the murder. Now Annie is getting ready for her wedding when it’s announced that the man in jail for her mother’s murder is getting out due to problems with his trial. Dealing with the weight of perhaps having sent an innocent man to jail as a child while trying to make everything perfect for her social-event-of-the-season wedding is too much for Annie, and she disappears for a while, as she is wont to do. But then she doesn’t come back. The story switches focus in every chapter, rotating among Annie herself; her Aunt Faye and cousin Clary, who have been the only family she’s ever known; Kenny, Annie’s secret best friend and maybe more; and Laurel, a rich girl who didn’t make it in the wider world and now is back in her hometown, writing for the local paper and embarrassed by her perceived failure. Each character’s voice is distinct and lived in as the reader gradually connects the threads tying everyone in this small town together. Whalen (When We Were Worthy, 2017, etc.) creates an atmosphere in which everyone has a deep, dark secret, but whether they are tied to Annie or not is uncertain. There are a lot of characters to untangle, and it does get a little confusing at times, but not a single one is uninteresting, and all are more integral to the plot than it might at first appear. Some characters, even if they don’t have a lot of room, beg to be remembered, like Travis, Clary’s megachurch-preacher ex-boyfriend. There’s a lot here.
An intriguing mystery filled with hearty characters.