Miller’s Creek would be just an ordinary farming town except for the fact that it is the site of one of Indiana’s most infamous murders. Seventy-five years ago, schoolteacher Jacob Palmer massacred his parents, grandmother, two cousins, and the milkman, then wounded a deputy before committing suicide. Fifteen years ago, Jesse Ellis and his friend Geoff Meyers crept into the cemetery to find Jacob Palmer’s burial site on the eve of the anniversary of the murders. Instead of finding the grave, another tragedy strikes the town. In the aftermath, Jesse and his family are forced to leave Miller’s Creek.
Present day, Jesse is an aspiring journalist. When his newspaper decides they want to do a story on the Jacob Palmer murders, they send Jesse to Miller’s Creek to get the inside story. Arriving in Miller’s Creek, Jesse realizes not much has changed about the town or its people until he meets Dustin Weaver, a man with an eerily similar past. With Dustin’s help, Jesse begins to realize that there is more to the story than what has been told and that if he wants to put his own demons to rest, he needs to confront his past.
This is one of those stories that had me hooked within the first few pages and I couldn’t put it down. I would consider this more of a mystery/suspense with romantic themes than a romance with mystery/suspense undertones. Without a doubt, the story revolves around this thriller element. There is the beginning of a romance there, and definitely a few hot sex scenes, but the bulk of the story encompasses a long weekend. The author doesn’t leave readers hanging though; the epilogue gives readers a six-month update to what happened afterwards.
I really liked how Green did an excellent job putting the reader into Jesse’s mindset of how he viewed his town and the tragedy that happened there at the age of 13, and now at the age of 28. If given the choice, Jesse wouldn’t have ever returned, but the desire to become a journalist and to please his boss forces him to go back to the place where his childhood ended. Going back, Jesse is able to gain some insight into why he and his family had to leave.
Dustin has his own tragic past, one he was able to confront and move on from with the help of his best friend and therapy. His ability to understand what Jesse is going through is key to helping Jesse confront his past and to unraveling the mystery of why Jacob Palmer committed such horrendous acts.
The characters in the book are well developed. One can vividly imagine Jesse’s boss flirting to get Jesse to do what he wants. One can imagine walking into the diner and seeing Kim hushing Artie as he tries to control the conversation with the townspeople.
My only issue with this book was how quick Jesse and Dustin were willing to throw out the “L” word. While the author does a fabulous job addressing this in the epilogue, when I first read it I was shocked and thinking of throwing my ereader across the room.
Other than that minor blip, I thought this was a great story. It kept me turning the pages to see how the story ended, and, as I stated above, the author does a wonderful job tying up everything in the epilogue so that readers are satisfied.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.