Author Gilly Macmillan is known for writing some darker mysteries so when this one came up for review, I was intrigued enough to check it out. I know that a lot of psychological thriller and mysteries tend to be more twisty and dark and I love reading mysteries like that. For me my favorites are either classic Agatha Christie style mysteries or the dark twisty modern psychological thrillers!
This one actually sounded like it might blend both the classic mystery with the darker twists that more modern thriller are known for so I was super excited see how the two merge together. I haven’t read a mystery in a while that does this and to be honest, the one I did read just wasn’t for me (The Guest List) so I wasn’t exactly sure that this was going to be a perfect match up but I was at least willing to give it a go.
I have Macmillan’s books on my radar over the years and I know that she has had a lot of fans who enjoy her books so that says to me she is a seasoned writer and tried and proven talent with a big fan base. This gave me the assurance that I would be reading a quality mystery an it was that. It actually was a little different than I was expecting but pretty good none the less!
Three couples. Two bodies. One secret.
Dark Fell Barn is a “perfectly isolated” retreat, or so says its website when Jayne books a reservation for her friends. A quiet place, far removed from the rest of the world, is exactly what they need.
The women arrive for a girls’ night ahead of their husbands. There’s ex-Army Jayne, hardened and serious, but also damaged. Ruth, the driven doctor and new mother who is battling demons of her own. Young Emily, just wed and insecure, the newest addition of this tight-knit band. Missing this year is Edie, who was the glue holding them together until her husband died suddenly.
But what they hoped would be a relaxing break soon turns to horror. Upon arrival at Dark Fell Barn, the women find a devastating note claiming one of their husbands will be murdered. There are no phones, no cell service to check on their men. Friendships fracture as the situation spins wildly out of control. Betrayal can come in many forms.
This group has kept each other’s secrets for far too long. (summary from Goodreads)
I went into this one expecting it to be ‘so good’ but in the end it was good but not great. It hit middle of the road for me and from some of the other reviews I am seeing, I am in the majority with this opinion. I mean the storyline is intense and yes it does have a pretty dark plot but I don’t know that I found it as suspenseful as I was expecting. Yes there are classic whodunnit elements that I love in Christie novels and other traditional mystery novels but it just lacked some the luster of a psychological thriller or even a basic thriller for me.
This book is told from several point of views and the wives are the main point focus of the narrative. I liked that each wife was well developed and had an interesting backstory. Plus they were all unreliable narrators in their own right so it was enough to keep me guessing and speculating on motives and secrets. I really liked that part of the story, the characterization really shined in this book but beyond that, this book just landed in the middle of the road. Some of the mystery part felt a little too basic and just didn’t have enough to really keep me guessing. Some of it felt a little forced and I just wasn’t fully invested in the book in the way that I had hoped. It had some great atmosphere and had me feeling unsettled but beyond that there just wasn’t a lot of me to sink my teeth into the way that I had hoped.
I ended up going with a 3 star review for this one since it was good at times and I liked the characters and the premise of the story was ok but nothing really stood out for me as memorable. In my copy there were no chapter breaks and I struggled to keep up with what was going on. I had an ARC so perhaps that was corrected in the final edition but for me in the ARC it was a struggle to figure out what was going on at times. As I got to know the characters more, it became easier to follow along but in the beginning it was a challenge. It sounds like this is definitely not Macmillan’s top work so if you are trying her for the first time you might want to maybe start with something else.
Book Info and Rating
Format: 336 pages, hardcover
Published: March 29th 2022 by William Morrow and Co
Free review copy provided by publisher, William Morrow and CO, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: thriller, mystery