There are most definitely secrets

Though not read for the A-Z Reading Challenge, I just finished Chris Bohjalian's newest novel, Secrets of Eden, a murder/mystery/thriller type.  I've loved everything that I've read of Bohjalian's, but for some reason this one didn't capture my attention as quickly as the previous novels.  It's not bad, but it wasn't great either.  Of course by the end I was shocked and most definitely thrown for a loop with the twist he provides, but I didn't like the fact that it took me that long to become engrossed in the story.

Like most of Bohjalian's novels, Secrets of Eden is told from several different perspectives, four to be precise, and peppered with excerpts from the writing of Heather Laurent.  One thing to keep in mind when reading Bohjalian's novels:  the characters are not always what they seem.

 The first character is Stephen Drew, the local pastor in the community.  He is the character that informs the reader that the murder/suicide of Alice and George Hayward has taken place and shaken the small Vermont community he presides over.  As Drew explains what's going on in the town, and his own personal feelings about what has happened, the reader is able to get a glimpse of who Drew "might" be.  We discover that, after the tragedy, he is having a crisis of faith and that he might have been more involved with members of Hayward family than he should have been.

The second perspective we get is that of Catherine Benicasa, the deputy state attorney.  She's been assigned to examine the incident because of suspicions that have arisen in the initial investigation, such as the bullet's trajectory and the blood alcohol levels in George Hayward's system.  This, coupled with Drew's rather abrupt exit of the town, leads Benicasa to believe that he was somehow involved in the event.

The third character introduced to the reader is Heather Laurent, an author of books involving angels and how they are real entities that enter into peoples lives when they most need them.  Originally she is in the area for a book signing and speech but, after reading about the story in the local paper, she becomes intrigued with the event and decides to go to the town.  This, along with the fact that her childhood is eerily similar to what has just taken place in Vermont, causes her to become a suspect in the investigation as well.  Also, she becomes involved with Stephen Drew.

The last character introduced, and perhaps the most compelling of the four, is Katie Hayward, the teenage daughter of Alice and George Hayward.  Through Katie the reader learns of the aftermath of the investigation, what has happened in the town, and how she is managing to cope with the loss of her parents.  We also learn the truth about the night in question.  I must say that Katie's chapters were the ones that pulled me in and shocked me the most.  They were definitely the icing on the cake...with sprinkles.

As a whole I have to say that I was a slightly disappointed in this selection.  Though well written and at times compelling, I was left wanting until the very end.  Thankfully the ending of Secrets of Eden was such that my opinions were elevated somewhat.  Overall grade:  B+


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