Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Review: What Remains of Her by Eric Rickstad

Title: What Remains of Her
Author: Eric Rickstad
Published: July 2018, William Morrow Paperbacks
Format: ARC Paperback, 416 pages
Source: Publisher

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Silent Girls comes this chilling, harrowing thriller set in rural Vermont about a recluse who believes the young girl he's found in the woods is the reincarnation of his missing daughter, returned to help him solve her and his wife's disappearance.
 I won’t say a word. Cross my heart and hope to die…

Jonah Baum, a professor of poetry at a local college in Vermont, sees his ordinary life come tumbling down when his wife and young daughter vanish from their home. No evidence of a kidnapping. No sign of murder. No proof that Rebecca didn’t simply abandon her marriage. Just Sally’s crude and chilling drawings, Jonah’s little lies, and the sheriff’s nagging fears that nothing is what it seems.

For Sally’s best friend, Lucinda, it’s something else. She trusts in Sally not to just disappear, not after they’ve shared so many secrets—especially about the woods and what they saw there. But she’ll never tell. No one would believe her anyway.

As the search for Rebecca and Sally intensifies, and as suspicion falls on Jonah, the disappearances become more relentlessly haunting than anyone can imagine. Because what’s seen in the light of day is not nearly as terrifying as what remains hidden in the dark…

My thoughts: Eric Rickstad has become one of my favorite crime fiction authors. I devoured his Canaan Crime series and while I hope there will be more books coming out in that series, I of course, would not say no to a stand alone. And what a stand alone it was!

One of my favorite aspects of Eric's writing is his incredible ability to create a sense of place in his books. He fully creates and uses the atmosphere and setting in his books to its fullest advantage and that is absolutely the case once again in this latest book. Setting the book in Vermont in the middle of winter, he is able to make use of the cold, dark winter and of course the snow. And he uses that as well as the woods that inhabit the small town in which he sets his story. This just adds to the overall suspense of the story and really helps create a sense of bleakness and desperation, as well as that sense of darkness and foreboding. But at the same time, he is not overly descriptive in his writing of the setting. He gives just enough to set the place without getting too bogged down.

I love the characters that Eric creates. Here he gives us two that he fully develops and we follow them after a horrible event unfolds - that of the disappearance of a wife and daughter. The set up of the book is interesting. As it follows the father and best friend of the daughter, Jonah and Lucinda, we see just how they cope, immediately after and years after. We see their struggles and their pain as they learn to deal with this new normal - that these people they loved have just disappeared with no reason and no rationale. He makes these characters very relatable, and their emotions are quite palpable. 

I found myself on the edge of my seat as this book reached it's final conclusion. I had run through a ton of possibilities while reading it, but never once did I go where it ended up. It is certainly a twist-filled journey that takes us to this finale and one that shocked me to my core - well played, Eric Rickstad, well played!

I flew through this book, as I have with each of Eric's previous books, and now I am quite anxious to see what comes next. I do hope there will be more installments of the Canaan Crimes series, but I wouldn't be opposed to another stand-alone especially if it is anything like this one! 


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