Towner Whitney left Salem, Massachusetts, a long time ago and never looked back. In fact, she never intended to return until her beloved Aunt Eva goes missing. Towner reluctantly returns to Salem to help search for her missing aunt. Shorty after she arrives, they fine her elderly aunt’s body in the bay. She had apparently drowned while swimming.
As Towner prepares for the funeral and the other arrangements associated with her aunt’s death, we get a glimpse into the history of the Whitney women. For generations, they have had the gift of reading fortunes in the intricate lace patterns that they sew. Towner tries her best to ignore this gift and live the most uneventful life she can.
However, Towner is doubtful that her aunt’s drowning was an accident. For one thing, her Aunt Eva, like all Whitney women, was an excellent swimmer. Towner digs for answers surrounding her aunt’s death while fighting the panic and fear rising in her from a traumatic childhood she can barely remember. When another young girl goes missing -- a girl who has been involved with a fire-and-brimstone preacher who has had a long history of violence against the women in Towner’s family -- her questions about her aunt’s disappearance and mysterious drowning intensify.
Local cop Jon Rafferty finds Towner captivating, and, while he tries to solve the mysterious disappearance of the young girl, he finds himself digging deeper into the history of Towner and the Whitney women, trying to fill in the gaps that Towner can’t.
As the two search for answers in the small town, Towner’s missing memories come flooding back so quickly and with such force that her whole concept of what’s real and what’s not, is capsized until she finds herself drowning in a life that she never knew was her own.
“The Lace Reader” is a beautifully paced book with an excellent twist at the end. I found myself looking back through the story trying to see clues that I may have missed. Towner is a great narrator, and I believed her completely even though she said from the start, “I lie all the time.”
Barry captured the small tourist town of Salem with vivid life and color. The eccentric locals and laid-back way of life in an ocean town made the setting feel believable.
“The Lace Reader” is a dark, complicated, completely original story with an ending that will make even the most careful reader have to flip back pages to see what and how they could have missed it.
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