Thomas & Mercer: Amazon. Jan. 2021. 348p. ISBN 9781542016315. pap. $15.95. THRILLER
When pregnant reporter Joan Harken doesn’t get a promotion and is mugged, her fiancé, Deck, suggests they move to his hometown of Lilydale, MN, where his father is on the local draft board and can help him avoid the Vietnam draft. Deck lets everyone assume they’re married. While he settles in working for his father, Joan finds the gathering of the Mill Street neighbors to be uncomfortable and bizarre. The neighbors seem to watch every move, and know everything she does. Joan fears she’s going nuts when even her college roommate doesn’t believe her about how weird the town is. While investigating the story of a child who went missing two decades earlier, Joan uncovers the strange history of the cultlike Mothers and Fathers of Mill Street. She fears for her safety and that of her baby, an emotion that echoes throughout the book in moments when she shares her postpartum trauma.
VERDICT Lourey returns readers to Lilydale, the setting of Unspeakable Things, in a tense novel that combines traces of The Stepford Wives with Rosemary’s Baby. Although the plot hinges on the history of a missing child, Lourey ratchets up the fear in a novel that verges on horror.
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