Secrets of Eden
Booklist Reviews 2009 December #2
*Starred Review* Who killed Alice Hayward? Was it the charismatic pastor who baptized her hours before her death? Was it her abusive husband, George, who then took a gun to himself? Or was it Heather Laurent, a famous author of books about angels, who may have a demonic side? On the surface, the crime scene at the Hayward's comfortable Vermont village home appears to be a straightforward case of murder-suicide in which George Hayward strangled his wife and then blew his brains out. But to Deputy State's Attorney Catherine Benincasa, things are rarely as they seem, a view that is reinforced when Alice's diary is found with cryptic references to Reverend Stephen Drew. Suffering from his own crisis of faith, Drew is particularly susceptible to the not-unwelcome attention of Laurent, who believes she is a guardian angel sent to help Drew resolve these conflicts. Always a solid craftsman, Bohjalian brings his trademark brand of astute character development to these delightfully ambiguous portraits of suspects, victims, and accusers alike, as he drops bombshell clues through sly, innocuous asides and weaves subtle nuances of doubt and intrigue into a taut, read-in-one-sitting murder mystery. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2010 January #1
While stylistically reminiscent of his earlier best seller, Midwives, Bohjalian's 13th novel is his most splendid accomplishment to date. The story revolves around the apparent murder-suicide of Alice and George Hayward and its toll on the couple's teenage daughter Katie, the lost faith of Rev. Stephen Drew, and the minister's relationship with an author of books about angels. As the narrative takes its turn through a series of voices, Bohjalian wends his way through the reader's mind, toying with perceptions, trust, and doubt. Did George in fact kill himself after strangling his wife? As lives are dissected, relationships are uncovered and their repercussions hypothesized and echoed. VERDICT A fantastic choice for book clubs, this novel deals beautifully with controversial topics of domestic abuse, faith, and adultery without resorting to sensationalism. Fans of Jodi Picoult and Anita Shreve will enjoy this breathtaking piece of fiction. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/09; also available in ebook, large print, and unabridged CD editions; a Lifetime TV movie will coincide with the paperback sale.—Ed.]—Julie Kane, Sweet Briar Coll. Lib., VA[Page 85]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
LJ Reviews 2009 November #1
Alice gets baptized and goes home to her husband, who kills her and then himself. Her minister understandably suffers a spiritual crisis. But is Alice's death what is seems? Now this I want to read; with a multicity tour. Big. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
PW Reviews 2009 November #2
Bohjalian (Law of Similars) has built a reputation on his rich characters and immersing readers in diverse subjects—homeopathy, animal rights activism, midwifery—and his latest surely won't disappoint. The morning after her baptism into the Rev. Stephen Drew's Vermont Baptist church, Alice Hayward and her abusive husband are found dead in their home, an apparent murder-suicide. Stephen, the novel's first narrator, is so racked with guilt over his failure to save Alice that he leaves town. Soon, he meets Heather Laurent, the author of a book about angels whose own parents' marriage also ended in tragedy. Stephen's deeply sympathetic narration is challenged by the next two narrators: deputy state attorney Catherine Benincasa, whose suspicions are aroused initially by Stephen's abrupt departure (and then by questions about his relationship with Alice), and Heather, who distances herself from Stephen for similar reasons and risks the trip into her dark past by seeking out Katie, the Haywards' now-orphaned 15-year-old daughter who puts into play the final pieces of the puzzle, setting things up for a touching twist. Fans of Bohjalian's more exotic works will miss learning something new, but this is a masterfully human and compassionate tale. (Feb.)[Page 32]. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.