Returning to the scene of a family tragedy, a woman confronts secrets and murder.
Twenty-seven years after her parents and brother died in a horrible car accident that she survived, Clotilde returns to Corsica for the first time, bringing her husband and daughter to visit her paternal grandparents, who are still a wealthy and powerful force on the island. Just after she arrives, someone sends her a mysterious note—written in her dead mother’s handwriting. As she begins to wonder whether the car crash was truly an accident, and whether there could have been any way her mother survived, someone else is also reliving that long-ago summer by reading Clotilde’s teenage diary and dreaming of revenge. The sins of the past, of course, are not buried or forgotten, and adult Clotilde must discover the connection among her parents’ relationship; a half-paralyzed man; the abandoned plan to build a dolphin sanctuary; a dog named Pacha; and the reappearance of an Italian beauty who had been seducing her brother that fateful summer. There are a lot of moving parts in Bussi’s (Blackwater Lilies, 2017, etc.) novel, a lot of switching from past to present, but as the complexity mounts, the novel gets more and more engaging. It takes a while to get a true sense of Clotilde as an adult compared to her vivid 15-year-old self, but her self-awareness and confidence make her an appealing and strong character. The mystery surprises, and the backdrop of Corsica lends the novel an exotic air while also exposing the way that tradition is fading in such small communities.
A well-constructed literary thriller with a strong sense of place and deep understanding of human nature.