The gory prologue sets the scene as a blood-covered man is picked up on a desolate road. The book proper starts when a group of children find a body in the lake.
The first chapter is slow and full of the depressing background and lives of the children, who live in a rural part of America. Of course, it changes at the end of the chapter when they find the body of a young woman. Unable to get the discovery out of their minds they decide to find out who killed her.
This is a story of friendship, family, trust and the bonds that bind them. The four children find an escape and sanctuary in their group and the secret 'fort' they made is their refuge. Each lives within a dysfunctional and often abusive family and the friends offer love and security the families do not. And how many of us didn't have that bolthole as a child? The concept has a very nostalgic feel.
As children, their attempts to find out who the dead woman is and who killed her are mocked by the authorities. None of the people who should be trustworthy appear to be, as secrets and threats abound. The coming-of-age experiences take place over three summers and mutate into something much nastier and the story progresses slowly into something very dark indeed. The equilibrium at the end is perhaps a little overstretched, but the story builds, tears and rips at the very core. Harrowing, disturbing and a darn good read. Recommended.
Published by HarperCollinsUK Harper Fiction The Borough Press on 14 June 2018. Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.
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