An Ozarks Novel
by Katie Estill
and melancholic mystery/suspense. Sad but awesome!
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (January 2007)
Estill's Dahlia's Gone tells
the story of three women in a small Ozark town whose separate lives are
joined by murder. Not a typical cozy mystery nor a typical suspense
thriller in which all ends are tied up in a nice bow, Dahlia's Gone stands out as a
poetic work of fiction, melancholic in voice, that looks at the lives
of women through an almost spiritual eye. Dahlia's Gone will appeal to
readers craving something a little different from strict genre
formulas, readers who love multiple genres, and readers who want to put
reading preconceptions aside and enter the imagination of a book and to
be led into new ways of seeing.
Norah Everston asks her neighbor Sand Williams to watch in on her two
teenage children while she and her husband finally take some time out
for themselves and a vacation. Sand agreed without thinking about it
even though she had no particular connection to Norah and did not even
like her that much. When an intense rainstorm threatens to wash out the
bridge, Sand feels guilty for neglecting her promise. She checks on
Norah's children only to find Dahlia murdered, her blood drained from
the washed body and the mentally disabled son distraught. Unaware and
almost detached from his sister's death, Timothy can only pray in a
kind of franticness. Sand feels that in one moment of distraction, her
word to Norah begins to create unforeseen bonds and complications.
Norah now blames her for the horrible disruption to her family and
fears the shunning of her fundamentalist church more than anything.
Deputy Patti Callahan, the first officer on the scene, discovers that
this case will alter her life in unforeseen ways.
tells the story of how Dahlia's death reverberates in the lives of
three women. Dahlia's death separates them from the past, and from
others. Sand sees the world as if separated by a camera lens. Dahlia's
death alienates Norah from family and church, the two things that have
been her foundation and protection from the past. When everything is
taken away from her, will Norah crash and burn or will she rise to the
challenge? When everything is gone and she can no longer protect
herself, will she self destruct or find a richer kind of comfort and
spirituality born from sorrow? A sudden shocking revelation tears
through the fabric of their lives, not once but twice as the mystery
behind Dahlia's murder finally finds resolution. Out of the depths of
sadness, can friendship and maybe hope be born?
captivates with its sometimes eerie, poetic and melancholic narrative
voice. Visual imagery is a key to this novel, allowing the reader to
feel the character's separation and sadness. The river and water
imagery permeates the landscape, building up a view of the deep
emotional undercurrents, tinged with a poetic spirituality connecting
the characters in this Ozark town.
Dahlia's Gone is
an unusual mystery-suspense read --- and one I adore! Dahlia's Gone has a certain
spiritual vision that emerges from the lives of its characters and the
author's vision. It is not traditional nor religious. In fact, Dahlia's Gone shows some of the
unhealthy extremism in dogmatic black/white religion. And yet, it has a
spiritual vision of hope, of friendship, of poetic and spiritual beauty
in the midst of something horrific and characters who experience
separation from "normal" life.
Let me warn you. This is NOT a cozy mystery. This book is sad, and
thought-provoking, a kind of mesmerizing soul read, a woman's poetry
read in a mystery/suspense book. Quite unusual! If you want a light
read to relax or a clever mystery/suspense puzzle with all clues tied
up in a bow, or if you think of life or religion in black and white
absolutes, this is not the kind of book to choose. If you crave an
awesome poetic, melancholic suspense, something truly different, Dahlia's Gone is a great choice.
Reviewed by Merrimon,
Merrimon Book Reviews