Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Twisted Thread by Charlotte Bacon

When beautiful but aloof Claire Harkness is found dead in her dorm room one spring morning, prestigious Armitage Academy is shaken to its core. Everyone connected to school, and to Claire, finds their lives upended, from the local police detective who has a personal history with the academy, to the various faculty and staff whose lives are immersed in the daily rituals associated with it.

Everyone wants to know how Claire died, at whose hands, and more importantly, where the baby that she recently gave birth to is a baby that almost no one, except her small innermost circle, knew she was carrying.

At the center of the investigation is Madeline Christopher, an intern in the English department who is forced to examine the nature of the relationship between the school's students and the adults meant to guide them. As the case unravels, the dark intricacies of adolescent privilege at a powerful institution are exposed, and both teachers and students emerge as suspects as the novel rushes to its thrilling conclusion.

What’s best about this book is the atmosphere. There is a great sense of oppression that works very well with the story line. It enhances the mystery much more than if the action had been spread out through different locales. And really, the way the book starts is intriguing, catching the reader quickly and effectively. The problem is that it’s not consistent writing. There are a lot of what I felt were extraneous moments, which took away some of the great tension that the writer had spent time building. I realize that there needs to be moments where the storyline relaxes, but it seemed like by the second half, that’s all the book was. Just a bunch of unconnected moments tied together.
There were many well-written scenes, but they tend to take place towards the beginning of the book. It’s like the end loses steam. The epilogue in particular I felt need to be much shorter, much more concise. There was too much going on.

The characters, Madeline for example, and Matt, were crafted nicely, so that at least their scenes stayed interesting throughout most of the book. The rest kind of flitted through the pages without leaving too much of an imprint on the reader’s attention.

This had the potential to be a wonderful book. For me, it got a little lost in some of its plot points, so I can’t recommend it like I would have liked to.

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