The Reservoir by John Milliken Thompson- Book Review

The Reservoir by John Milliken Thompson
Published by Other Press

When a young, pregnant woman, Lillie, is found floating dead in Richmond’s reservoir, the cause of death is originally thought to be suicide, but soon the evidence piles up so that murder is suspected. Before too long, the police pick up Lillie’s cousin Tommie, with whom she had been having a fling. As it becomes more and more obvious that Tommie was with Lillie the night she died, he is put on trial for her murder, his own life hanging in the balance.

The Reservoir has just a bit of a slow start. I read about 35 pages and put it down for a week, without ever particularly needing to pick it up again. Once I finally picked it up again, however, I finished the last 300 pages in just two sittings in under 24 hours. Thompson has brought 19th century Richmond to life.

The based-on-a-true-story events of The Reservoir are viewed at somewhat of a remove, with distant language, but it worked in this case. Tommie is removed from his own life, awaiting the outcome of his trial. The narrative distance also contributes to the questions about whether or not Tommie is a reliable narrator in his tales of what happened to Lille, of what really happened.

After a slow start, The Resvoir is a truly engrossing, beautifully-written literary historical mystery.

We will be discussing The Reservoir right here on Tuesday, July 26 as part of BOOK CLUB, all are welcome to attend.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher for BOOK CLUB.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan – Book Review

31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan

When Dr. Harvey Burdell is discovered brutally murdered one morning at 31 Bond Street, his boarder and household manager, Emma Cunningham is immediately suspected. When a secret marriage certificate is found dating to two weeks before the murder, her fate seems to be sealed, until she manages to hire Henry Clinton as her lawyer. Alternating between the months leading up to the murder and the time after the murder leading up to the trial, “31 Bond Street” is grabbed my attention from the beginning and didn’t let go.

If you know my reading well, you know that I am often less than enamored with historical fiction set in the United States. There are a fair number of exceptions, but as a rule it doesn’t interest me – which is odd, because I have always loved American history. Happily, “31 Bond Street” was precisely one of those exceptions.

I was drawn to every aspect of “31 Bond Street.” First of all, real life murder mystery! It is a bit gruesome if you are squeamish about that sort of thing, but the details aren’t too pervasive, so you could probably sort of gloss over them. I loved the way that Horan drew the setting, I truly got the feel of mid-19th century New York. Then there was the way that the characters and their stories were unraveled: slow enough to keep me in suspense, fast enough that I didn’t get bored or annoyed.

I also thought the story and structure were fabulous. Horan did a wonderful job interweaving the historical facts as they are known with her own conjecture and conclusions. It kept the story moving and allowed for some sort of resolution to the mystery, instead of being left with the questions in the historical record. This is the kind of thing that breathes life into a story, and it was done perfectly. So too the decision to alternate between the time before and the time after the murder. Each storyline was told chronologically, and they both ultimately were leading to the same conclusion reached at different times, which lent a nice sense of balance to the story, while constantly building suspense.

Really, the only thing that disappointed me about this book is that it is Horan’s first, so I couldn’t pop out and grab another one to read. Even so, it was the kind of book that left me so high on the experience of reading it that I just wanted to keep reading anything I could get my hands on, even if it was completely different.

Buy this book from:
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound

This review was done with a book received from the author.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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