Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Review: The Distant Dead by Heather Young

Author: Heather Young
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: June 2020

A young boy finds himself at the center of a murder mystery in this timely and twisty thriller from the author of the acclaimed The Lost Girls—a compelling and indelible story set in small town America that examines the burden of guilt, the bitter price of forgiveness, and the debts we owe our dead, both recent and distant.

A body burns in the high desert hills. A boy walks into a fire station, pale with the shock of a grisly discovery. A middle school teacher worries when her colleague is late for work. By day’s end, when the body is identified as local math teacher Adam Merkel, a small Nevada town will be rocked to its core by a brutal and calculated murder.

Adam Merkel left a university professorship in Reno to teach middle school in Lovelock seven months before he died. A quiet, seemingly unremarkable man, he connected with just one of his students: Sal Prentiss, a lonely sixth grader who lives with his uncles on a desolate ranch in the hills. The two outcasts developed a tender, trusting friendship that brought each of them hope in the wake of tragedy. But it is Sal who finds Adam’s body, charred almost beyond recognition, half a mile from his uncles’ compound.

I knew very little about The Distant Dead before starting it.  I think it's a book that is better if you know very little going into it.  In the beginning, I wasn't sure if I was going to like the story.  I am so glad I finished it because I ended up really enjoying it.  The story follows a few points of view and goes from the present (after the death of Adam) and  the months leading up to his death.  The story touches on real life issues, like small towns, poverty, and drug abuse.  

It's kind of a coming of age story mixed in with a mystery.  There were a lot of surprises.  The author did an excellent job of keeping me guessing until the end.  The pacing of the book was also excellent.  I didn't mind the change between timelines as it was seamless and easy to follow.  I enjoyed the characters, especially Sal.  If he were real, I would want to give him a big hug.  Talk about having to grow up before your time.  I really don't want to talk plot because it would really ruin it for you. Just go read it. I highly recommend this one.  

1 comment:

shelleyrae @ book'd out said...

Sounds interesting, thanks for sharing your thoughts