Written By: Laura McHugh
Published By: Spiegel & Grau March 11, 2014
Length: 320 pages
Source: Publisher e galley via NetGalley
In the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, Lucy Dane lives in the rural town of Henbane. When the body of her mentally challenged friend Cheri turns up brutally dismembered around a tree Lucy is furious, and she wants answers. She seems to want answers more than anyone else in town, others are frightened, and begin to lock their doors.
Henbane is small and closed, not welcoming to newcomers. There is still talk of Lucy’s mother, Lila, who disappeared when she was an infant. Lila came to town from Iowa, orphaned and alone, she believed she was working under contract for Crete Dane, Lucy’s uncle. Lila was beautiful and different, the locals looked at her with skepticism and kept their distance. As she worked on Crete’s farm she believed she had a friend in Ransome Crowley, the field supervisor. She also worked along side of Gabby in the small restaurant Crete owned next to his store. Gabby was a real friend.
Lucy is now 17, and she’s finally convinced her dad to let her work at Uncle Crete’s store. She wants her own money, like most teens. She plans to save for a cell phone, and she savors that extra taste of freedom. She makes friends with a young man who also works with her, and their first job is to clean out an old trailer her uncle had rented out. Lucy discovers something that belonged to Cheri, and her suspicions have her mind reeling. As Lucy begins to search for answers to Cheri’s murder she also uncovers many other secrets that are whispered about and buried in Henbane. Unfortunately the answers are way too close to home.
I was blown away by this book! I was thrilled to read it prior to it’s publication, and I haven’t been able to stop recommending it. This does not read like a first time novel. From page one the reader is drawn into the quiet remote mountains of southern Missouri. The reader can feel the sense of people who know each other very well, and also sweep the ugly things under the rug. Told in alternating voices of Lucy and Lila in part one, and in a few other characters in part two, the story keeps moving quickly. The reader is learning about Lila’s life when she came to Henbane and also about Lucy’s search for answers. The pace and desire to learn the answers kept me up late eagerly wanting more. I was shocked by the answers.
Laura McHugh happens to live in my college town, Columbia MO. I don’t know why but this just makes me feel all warm and happy. I loved this book, and I am looking forward to more from Laura. There is also a Q & A on the author’s website. I highly recommend this book to fans of thrillers and mysteries. This book also reflects families and small towns, but it’s creepy factor drew me in and held me. Go buy or borrow this one…really!!