Theme Music

Dutton. Jul. 2019. 400p. ISBN 9781524744700. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781524744717. THRILLER
[DEBUT] Vandelly's gruesome thriller opens on Thanksgiving Day 1992, which Dixie Wheeler's father celebrated by slaughtering her entire family—her mother and three brothers with an axe, then himself—leaving 18-month-old "Baby Blue" to wail in her highchair while her namesake Badfinger song played. Twenty-five years later, Dixie learns that her childhood home is on the market. Against the judgment of everyone close to her, as well as the retired detective who investigated the murders, she moves in, using crime scene photographs and old furniture kept in storage to re-create the house as it looked on that violent day. Almost immediately, Dixie's attempts to figure out why her father killed her family, if he did at all, run up against the belief that the house is haunted. With her grasp on reality becoming more tenuous, the Wheeler family ghosts freely congregate around the house and more people in Dixie's orbit keep turning up dead.
VERDICT There's a character in this engaging but somewhat repetitive debut who talks about a "blood bucket," the amount of violence one can take before it tips over. For fans of A.J. Finn's The Woman in the Window with sufficiently large buckets, this twist-filled story will be mostly eagerly welcomed.

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