I do enjoy a good mystery, and while Charlotte Bacon’s Twisted Thread is not, say, Harlan Coben, it is entertaining and captivating.
Rich, beautiful, mysterious and apparently bitchy Claire Harkness dies on the cusp of graduating from Armitage Academy, an educational enclave for the scions of the rich and even richer. Claire is no exception. Her death is shocking enough, but what truly stuns the tiny town of Greenville is that Claire recently gave birth, and her baby son is missing.
The story is told from three viewpoints: Madeline Christopher, a 25-year-old “intern” at the school who teaches poetry; Matt Corelli, a police detective investigating Claire’s death; and Jim French, the school’s handyman. Madeline clearly is the center of the story. She is young, naive yet increasingly hardened, and she doggedly pursues the case with as much vigilance as Matt does. Jim’s story is the one that is sort of superfluous; we don’t need his for the story to progress, and it almost muddies the tale.
In fact, that is the only true complaint I have about Twisted Thread: there is too much going on, so much so that Charlotte Bacon needs to wrap things up a little too neatly. Matt is a shrewd investigator, no doubt. In fact, he is an alumnus of the school, although he graduated under a cloud of suspicion. But he has an almost preternatural ability to figure out what happened, and the case comes together too tidily and easily toward the end of the book.
Even so, this is, like I said, a good book. The twisted thread in question is a bracelet of sorts, intended to be worn in a spot concealed from the view of others, that designates you as being a member of the so-called Reign of Terror, a group of girls who are indisputably cruel and snotty. Madeline first learns about them when four of the girls come to her, shortly after Claire’s death.
She forced herself to look unsurprised and asked something she hoped wouldn’t be seen as too prying: How long had the group been around? Lee shrugged. She thought since the seventies, when girls were first admitted. And it had died out when there were more girls, but someone, about in the nineties, had revived it.
Lee said Clare had invoked one of the most sacred of the Reign’s rituals, which was the making of the braided thread – always red, and braided with a few hairs from the members’ heads – that meant those who wore it vowed secrecy for life about a certain topic. Then they were to wear it until it wore off, naturally somewhere outsiders weren’t likely to see it. “When you twist the thread with the Reign, you have to vow not to tell roommates, boyfriends, anybody. Even husbands, later.”
The deeper Madeline gets into Claire’s life and death, the more secrets she uncovers. Matt, too, unlocks some mysteries, as does Jim.
But like I said, there is just too much going on here. Madeline’s sister becomes a minor character whose story we must read. Matt, too, has a sister whose story is told. Why? Neither advances the plot, and the distractions are unnecessary.
But I enjoyed the book, and you will, too. It is a good mystery, and you will want to keep reading to find out how Claire died and what happened to the baby.
Published by Voice and available on Amazon.com.
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview.