This is a compelling page turner, literary fiction at its best. I was hesitant to read this book since I could not get into her earlier work, "The Year of Fog", but I'm glad I did. It's a story about a crime but also a story about family, love and loss, betrayal, grief and finally, redemption. Incredibly moving, I read this book in one night. I plan to read the author's other books and give "The Year of Fog" another chance. Ms. Redmond is a very talented writer and storyteller.
From the author of "The Year of Fog" comes this intensely emotional and startlingly provocative family drama, in which a woman's search for her sister's killer spirals into a journey of secrets, revelations, and damaged lives.
Poignant and haunting..., February 19, 2010
A sister's quest to find out the truth behind the murder of her sister ends with self discovery and revelations about the nature of relationships between loved ones. How well do you really know your family? Are they keeping secrets from you? What truths are revealed simply by living together and being related?
Twenty years after the fact, Ellie Enderlin is haunted by the death of her reticent and secretive older sister, mathematical genius and Stanford prodigy, Lila. In the aftermath of the shocking murder, Ellie turns to a former English professor who fashions her memories and pain into a bestselling true crime novel -- and exposes Lila's married lover and colleague, Peter, as the suspected killer. Ellie is embarrassed and upset by the book and not satisfied with the fact that justice has not been served and Peter never convicted.
Ellie, unable to settle down, travels the world as a coffee buyer when she runs into Peter in a coffee shop where he gives her Lila's notebook. As she reads the notes, she starts to investigate her sister's past life to try to find out the truth about her sister's death. Who murdered Lila, and why? She follows a very thin line of clues, each interview leading her closer to the truth that has eluded her. The answer surprises Ellie and brings about a certain kind of closure.
Full of math terms, equations, proofs, and tidbits, the book sometimes reads like a text but there is a certain type of poetic beauty in the narrative even with all the scientific prose. The story is both a mystery and a literary work that will keep the reader turning the pages until the satisfying conclusion.
I picked up this book because of the math content but don't let that discourage you from reading this wonderful book. I couldn't put it down! It was well written and the characters had depth. Enjoyed it very much.
Ellie Enderlin is a professional coffee buyer whose life is influenced by one event: the murder of her sister Lila twenty years earlier. After a chance encounter during a coffee buying trip, Ellie decides to conduct her own investigation into Lila's death, which was never officially solved. However, doing so forces her to confront the truth of her family, her relationship with her sister, and her own isolation. Complicating matters is Ellie's own guilt for unwittingly contributing to a true crime book written about her sister's murder, which has unduly influenced Ellie's own thinking about the event. Although this description might make the book sound like a straightforward "by the books" thriller, it really is more than that. Although Ellie does conduct her own investigation (as only people in novels seem to do), the book deals with the complicated emotions surrounding the murder of a loved one as much as it does with the "whodunit" aspect. I thought this elevated the book above your standard mystery/thriller, and Richmond does a great job of working in little details about coffee, math, music and writing that add interest to the story. Most of all, Richmond does a wonderful job making Ellie a fully rounded character, which is so often lacking in books of this ilk. The book is a solid and satisfying read, and I would recommend it without reservation. An added little bonus in my edition was the author's No One You Know playlist, which includes songs either referenced in the book or that capture its spirit and setting. I think Michelle Richmond has pretty good taste in music!
Excerpt: Lila was like an unfinished novelâtwo hundred pages in, just when you're really getting into the story, you realize the rest never got written. You'll never know how the story ended. Instead, you're left with an abrupt and unsatisfying non-end, all the threads of the plot hanging loose.
Rating: 4 stars
Michelle Richmond is a wonderful writer. I have now read 2 of her 3 books. Both were excellent and beautifully written.
What a great read! In recent years I've lost both of my sisters. In reading this book it brought back so much I wish I'd known about each of them and since their passing and having heard stories from their friends gave me insight to a side of them that I made me think of them both in a new light. Just good reading about two sisters, so very different, but so loved.
Ellie's sister Lila is murdered when she is in college and no one is ever blamed for the crime. Ellie becomes friends with a professor (Thorpe) and spends many an afternoon talking to him. This is the times she uses to deal with her grief. Unbeknownst to her, the professor keeps notes of their talks and eventually writes a book about the Murder by the Bay. Feeling exposed and disillusioned, she begins carve her own way in the world. But things are never the same without closure of who killed her sister.
Many years later, Ellie runs into her sisters old boyfriend. The boyfriend "accused" in Thorpe's book. They talk a bit, and before too long, Ellie is on her quest to get some answers. What really happened to Lila that evening in the woods?
I was actually disappointed with this novel. While the premise was good, it was overloaded with technical math and the science of growing coffee. The characters are real and the plot was good, I was just left feeling overwhelmed and unsatisfied.
This was an interesting book. It is part discover myself novel, and part mystery. Loved the characters in this book. If you want something to read that is different, this is the book for you.
Thought I'd read just a few pages before I went to bed. I couldn't put it down. Had half the book read before I could force myself to turn out the light. At times I felt I was actually living Ellie's life with her as she lived it after her sister died. The story is truly a beautiful & mesmerizing read. I loved the ending. It made my heart smile.
Good book in its own right, but when comparing to The Year of Fog, it is not AS good.