The books you'll want to read.
In this wholly captivating novel, Mia Haas has carved out a life for herself in Chicago as an overnight pharmacist working with the bleary-eyed patrons who wander into the store in the dead of night. But when she gets a phone call telling her that her twin brother Luke is missing, she immediately drops everything and races back to the small North Dakota town they grew up in. Luke is nowhere to be found and he’s accused of murdering one of his students at the local high school where he teaches—a young woman who had a promising dance career ahead of her, until her body was found on the banks of the river, stripped of her glorious hair.
Mia can’t believe that Luke is guilty of murder. But neither can she explain why he has disappeared without a trace and isn’t answering her calls. And while Mia desperately wants to find her brother, it seems that all the local police are interested in is railroading Luke into a murder rap once he is found. Mia’s distrust of the local police goes back to her childhood—and the night her alcoholic mother crashed her car, leaving her with the mental capacity of a 9-year-old and living in a care home. Mia’s guilt about that night has fueled her own struggle with a pill addiction…a battle she felt she had a handle on. Until she was forced to come home.
Further complicating matters are rumors that Luke was having an affair with the murdered student. Those rumors have spread through the gossipy town like a forest fire, destroying Luke’s reputation and any goodwill Mia might have used to ask questions. But this doesn’t stop Mia. In a pill-fueled haze, Mia throttles forward, asking questions about her brother, the girl and her family, and Mia’s own past—uncovering some buried family secrets in the process.
I love a flawed protagonist, although it’s a fine line between a caricature and one that’s well drawn. This falls firmly in the latter camp. Mia Haas is convincing as a pharmacist with a pill problem, a failing that makes her all too human, and relatable even while being completely frustrating. Mia’s complete devotion to her brother and belief in his innocence—despite some evidence that points to the contrary—also hits home. Who wants to believe the worst of the people we love best?
I also love a story that unspools family secrets, and Smith does it artfully here, tying up loose ends and weaving together the plot points of small town life in surprising and credible ways. All in all, I found myself completely swept up and unable to put this down.