By: Karen Katchur
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: 4/4/2017
My Rating: 5 Stars
Talented Karen Katchur returns following (2015) The Secrets of Lake Road with another emotional mystery domestic suspense, THE SISTERS OF BLUE MOUNTAIN — two timelines connect for a riveting page-turner of the strong bonds of family.
Set in a fictional tourist town of Mountain Springs, PA, two young sisters Linnet and Myrna grew up in a home with a professor for a dad and a mother which suffers from extreme depression. When the girls were young, the father decided they would turn the large home into a Bed and Breakfast Inn, called the Snow Goose.
True to its name the Snow Goose was the main attraction in the small town, thriving on the snow geese migration. Each year, the birds flock to the dam, and the tourists follow. The geese migrated late winter and early spring, flying over Pennsylvania en route to Canada. Tourists traveled from as far away as Virginia to see the snow geese making their trip north, swimming in the dam, resting in the fields.
The girls are now grown. The mother is deceased, and the father has moved to the guest house and suffers from dementia. He is a retired ornithologist. Linnet (the older sister), now oversees the management of the inn with her husband Ian, and twelve-year-old son, Hank.
The younger sister, Myrna left the small-town life, years earlier and resides in Florida. Why did she want to escape the memories? She is very unsettled in her own personal life since Ben wants to get married and she does not believe in the institution, with no role models from her own childhood.
Something happened when the girls were teens. A tragedy. A dark secret. The sisters were once close and now estranged.
As the book opens, it is their busiest season, and the geese are dead. Everywhere. Hundreds of them. How could this have happened? Linnet cannot have dead geese in the yard.
Pop (the dad) is seventy-three and his mind is not what it once was. He is called the “Bird Man”. Pop had taught classes at the university years ago and the inn was left to the mother. Of course, with her depression (mental illness), a lot of the work was left to the girls. The girls have a lot of guilt from an event in the past.
Of course, the dad is not sure this is a nightmare or reality with the geese.
With another storyline, Jake is a reporter from Leigh Valley and sent to cover the story. He also has ties with this town. His dad died in a car accident years ago, and Jake was still not satisfied with the results of the investigation. He thinks this may be a good time to kill two birds. (no pun intended).
Jake had found an old Nokia cell phone. He was going to have a hacker try and locate the last phone number dialed. The phone was found with his dad’s body at the car crash.
What was his dad doing on a road in this town? How is this family connected to his father’s death?
The town makes national news and Myrna returns home. There is friction between her and her older sister. In the meantime, the professor who gets called in to investigate the birds' death (helping the father since he is too old), turns up dead. Then more fish.
The father is the prime suspect and his best friend Charlie is the chief of police, putting him in an awkward position. Pop loved the birds as well as the townspeople. They relied on the birds to bring tourists and money into the town.
With panic from everyone, not only do they have a crisis on their hand, now a murder. They cannot allow their father to be charged with the murder.
In the meantime, the closer Jake gets to solving the case of his father, the more the two sisters fear their long hidden secret will be unraveled. They are not speaking to one another. Keeping secrets can become deadly and stay with you through life. As the investigation unfolds, the sisters must confront one another and their hidden past.
Karen keeps you hooked from the first page to the last —turning the pages with several different mysteries and suspense going on at the same time. The most intriguing storyline is the mother and the girl’s past and how they are intertwined possibly with Jake’s father.
The author also crosses some moral lines and proposes some thought-provoking questions. As in her first book, the author delves into the complexities of interpersonal relationships and the parallels between land and life. An ideal choice for book clubs and further discussions.
Fans of Mary Alice Monroe and David Bell will enjoy, this well-written complex yet powerful family saga of sisters, combined with nature and lush settings.