The Darkness Surrounds Us

CamCat. Sept. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9780744302899. $26.99. SUSPENSE
In Lukasik’s (Peak Season for Murder) first gothic mystery, nurse Nellie Lester flees Chicago at the height of the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak and takes a job at Ravenwood Manor on a desolate Michigan island. The job’s main appeal is not her patient but a chance to find out who Nellie’s father was and the secret to her mother’s past, which is hidden on the island. When the frozen body of Ravenwood’s previous nurse, Irene Hayes, is discovered near the island logging camp, Nellie is sure she was murdered. Does her death have any connection to her mother’s time on the island when she belonged to an extreme religious community? After the island’s priest urges Nellie to find an old diary that was read and then hidden by Irene, he dies under questionable circumstances. With her patient no longer needing her services, Nellie has little time left to figure out whom she can trust and who would kill to keep the island’s secrets.
VERDICT Lukasik blends all the elements needed for a dark suspense novel: a forbidding mansion, ghostly presences, secret passages, a hostile housekeeper, a temperamental employer, and residents unwilling to talk to outsiders. For fans of Rebecca, The Woman in White, and The Death of Mrs. Westaway.
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