Review: She Lies in Wait, Gytha Lodge

Review: She Lies in Wait, Gytha LodgeShe Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge
Published by Random House ISBN: 1984817353
on January 8, 2019
Genres: Mystery
Pages: 368
Format: E-Book
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
three-half-stars

On a scorching July night in 1983, a group of teenagers goes camping in the forest. Bright and brilliant, they are destined for great things, and the youngest of the group—Aurora Jackson—is delighted to be allowed to tag along. The evening starts like any other—they drink, they dance, they fight, they kiss. Some of them slip off into the woods in pairs, others are left jealous and heartbroken. But by morning, Aurora has disappeared. Her friends claim that she was safe the last time they saw her, right before she went to sleep. An exhaustive investigation is launched, but no trace of the teenager is ever found.

Thirty years later, Aurora’s body is unearthed in a hideaway that only the six friends knew about, and Jonah Sheens is put in charge of solving the long-cold case. Back in 1983, as a young cop in their small town, he had known the teenagers—including Aurora—personally, even before taking part in the search. Now he’s determined to finally get to the truth of what happened that night. Sheens’s investigation brings the members of the camping party back to the forest, where they will be confronted once again with the events that left one of them dead, and all of them profoundly changed forever.

With the caveat that I don’t read mysteries often and am not generally a fan of the genre, this book is a good representative of the genre. The hardboiled DCI has an interesting backstory, and his new recruit DC Hanson is also interesting. I thought for a bit that the book might have a Murder on the Orient Express vibe, but a) I suppose it is hard to top the master at her own game, and b) it would have felt a bit like cheating anyway. Lodge leaves the reader guessing sufficiently until the end, though the climax of the novel didn’t hit me right. I don’t like to give away mysteries, but let’s just say it is better placed in some Romantic novel Lord Byron might have cooked up than in a 21st-century mystery. Also, why is it that the villain unmasked always loses all their nuance and complexity and is just evil? Part of what makes villains interesting, at least to me, is that complexity. It’s why, for example, I think Voldemort is a sort of boring villain, whereas the Malfoys are more interesting. The other characters managed to be more complex and interesting.

I read this thinking it would be light and kind of entertaining. I am finding it hard to read during the pandemic, though that problem is easing up a bit for me as the school year ends. I never felt the urge to give up on this book, and it kept me entertained. I suppose you can’t ask for much more than that, but I don’t think I was invested enough to read the next DCI Jonah Sheens book. However, I must admit this is probably mostly me and my own reading proclivities. Mystery lovers might really enjoy it.

three-half-stars
R.I.P. Challenge

And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie

[amazon_image id=”0062073486″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” class=”alignleft” ]And Then There Were None[/amazon_image]I had to give up on Neil Gaiman’s [amazon_link id=”0060557818″ target=”_blank” ]Neverwhere[/amazon_link]. I gave it longer than I typically would, but I kept finding excuses not to read it. For whatever reason, it just wasn’t doing it for me, and I love him as a writer. I am typically unable to put his books down. One of the excuses I made to put down Neverwhere was that I wanted to read Agatha Christie’s [amazon_link id=”0062073486″ target=”_blank” ]And Then There Were None[/amazon_link] after seeing the Doctor Who episode featuring Agatha Christie.

If you are not familiar with the book, it is the story of ten strangers, all lured to Indian Island under different pretenses. Once they arrive, they find their host has been delayed. They also find a nursery rhyme “Ten Little Indians” framed in their room. After their evening meal, Mr. Rogers, the butler, plays a recording, as he has been instructed to do by his employer. The recording accuses each of the ten visitors, including Mr. and Mrs. Rogers, of murder. In each case, the accused was able to wriggle out of a murder charge. One by one, the guests are murdered in a fashion that eerily resembles the disappearance of each Indian in the nursery rhyme. Each time one of them is murdered, one of the little ceramic Indians decorating the dining room table is smashed or disappears.

First, I managed to avoid spoilers for this book, so I really didn’t know how it went and thus was completely surprised. I thought I had figured out what was going on, but I was wrong. I have to give Agatha Christie respect for a tightly plotted mystery. Where the novel falls short, however, is characterization. I didn’t feel I knew any of the characters, and in the beginning, I had trouble keeping them straight. They were not distinct enough. I would have liked the opportunity to get to know them a bit better. The lack of characterization makes the characters feel more like chess pawns than human beings. I didn’t feel anything when one of them died; rather, I kept turning pages to see who would go next and how the rhyme would be interpreted in their death.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

R.I.P. Challenge