In Frome’s (The Twinning Murders, 2010, etc.) latest mystery, a homeless man uncovers secrets that may lead to fatal consequences.
Disillusioned journalist Josh Devlin, biding his time at a shelter in Kentucky, finds an apparently injured girl and is determined to help her. The girl, Alice, can’t remember the events which led to her predicament. Josh starts piecing together her random bits of memory; for once in his life, he’s driven by his need to follow through with something. What neither of the two know is that Alice was witness to a murder, and the killer is dead set on tying up all loose ends—one of those loose ends being Alice. Author Frome churns out a laudable crime thriller with a Southern setting. Josh is a bluesy detective armed with a harmonica instead of a gun, and he plays tunes in lieu of smoking cigarettes. The novel maintains an abundance of mystery to keep readers invested: Alice tries to recall her lost memories; Josh searches for Alice after she’s run away; and another character, Darryl, looks for the young girl and eventually zeroes in on Josh. Darryl recognizes Dewey, an older gent who works at the bar/cafe run by Josh’s uncle, the place where Alice has been stashed. On occasion, Frome won’t allow the book’s metaphors to stand on their own: Josh offers poker tips to a man in exchange for information, straightaway comparing both men’s lives to the game. But such moments are eclipsed by the inclusion of Southern dialect that’s imposing but far from overpowering. Readers will almost be able to hear the characters’ drawls with lines such as: “I already done told you.”
A novel with impeccable Southern flair, as soothing and cool as the notes from the protagonist’s blues harp.