REVIEW: BEHIND CLOSED DOORS, BY ELIZABETH HAYNES

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In October 2013, in Briarstone, DCI Louisa Smith is tasked with an investigation that went cold ten years before, but has now resurrected itself. A missing girl, Scarlett Rainsford, has reappeared and is in safekeeping in a hotel.

In August 2003, Scarlett disappeared one night from the apartments where her family was staying while vacationing in Greece. Her younger sister Juliette had no information to provide at the time of her disappearance, and neither did her parents, Clive and Annie.

But there was a lot more to the story, and much more was known by various characters. The bits and pieces would come together gradually, as we follow Scarlett’s narrative from the past and as it gradually moves forward. And in the narrative of Lou, as well as her staff member Sam Holland, the facts form and the clues lead to further answers.

Why was Juliette always reading and refusing to talk? How did Scarlett’s father punish her when she slipped away from his control? And why was Scarlett seemingly so willing to succumb to the control of the men who grabbed her?

I enjoyed the detective characters, like Lou and Sam, as well as Lou’s lover Jason, an analyst. They were all overburdened and struggling to find time for personal lives. I liked how they managed to somehow arrange for the occasional down time.

Themes of abuse, sex and drug trafficking, and the daily tasks of the detectives trying to sort through evidence and follow clues made Behind Closed Doors a compelling read. At first, the back and forth moments in time were confusing, but eventually I fell into the rhythm and looked forward to the onward progression over time. In the end, I had a sense of more answers to come, almost as if the story will continue, as there were some puzzling elements to decipher. 4.5 stars.

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REVIEW: THE SOUND OF GLASS, BY KAREN WHITE

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Our story begins in 1955 with Edith Heyward, in Beaufort, South Carolina, where she secretly works on a project up in the attic of the old antique home, worrying about her husband’s return from his trip. It is obvious that she is afraid of her husband, and the bruises tell us more.

Nearby, her young son CJ is playing. With the breezes come the sound of the wind chimes scattered all around; Edith makes them from sea glass.

When two tragedies occur that night, everything changes for Edith.

Fast forward to 2014: we meet Merritt Heyward, whose husband Cal, the grandson of Edith, has died. She has left her home in Maine, as she has inherited the family home in Beaufort. Merritt has her own secrets and fears, and she just wants to curl up alone in the old house and decide what to do next. But will the stream of visitors change everything for her? Why is her deceased father’s wife Loralee there with her ten-year-old son Owen? What is her agenda, and what are the secrets she is keeping?

The Sound of Glass is a lovely, atmospheric tale full of family secrets, revealing them one by one, like unpeeling an onion. But will the price of the revelations be worth it in the long run?

The characters were the kind that grip your heart and make you feel every available emotion, the ones you must feel for the mother (Loralee), who always has a bright smile and a humorous Southern saying, but who has taken a difficult journey for her son; for Merritt, leaving behind the dark shadows of her life with Cal, but holding tight to the secrets until her heart opens again in the presence of the wonderful new people in the life she has fallen into. And then there was Gibbes, who was the kind of brother-in-law who could see beyond the surface and realize what those around him needed.

Was everything that happened to them a coincidence? There were connections and threads that seemingly bound many of them together, some before they were born. What is the meaning of that kind of serendipity? A wonderful story that made me laugh and cry, and close the final page wishing I could read more about them all. Five stars.