Book Review: Seven Days Dead by John Farrow

Seven Days DeadSeven Days Dead
The Storm Murders #2

John Farrow
Minotaur Books, May 2016
ISBN  978-1-250-05769-3

From the publisher:  During an epic storm in the Gulf of Maine, a lone woman races – – first by car, then by a life-threatening sea crossing – – to the island of Grand Manan.  Her father is dying – – will she make it in time?  Others also venture out into the maelstrom that night, including a mysterious band of men and women who gather on Seven Days Work, the sheer cliff that overlooks the wild sea.  A housekeeper, a pastor, and a strange recluse are also wandering about in the tempest.  Who else risks being out in the turbulent black night?  And how many murder victims will be revealed at the break of dawn?

Emile Cinq-Mars, a retired Montreal detective whose reputation precedes him, is embarking on the first ever summer holiday he and his wife have taken in their long years of marriage.  They have booked a cabin built in the 1920’s, “tidy, clean, and as charming as a fawn nuzzling a doe in a spring meadow.”  When three men are found dead, he is asked to assist Officer Wade Louwagie (who suffers from PTSD) of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police,.  They have absolutely nothing to go on, no leads, and too many suspects.

Early on, we meet 57-year-old Reverend Simon Lescavage, “a pastor who’s lost his faith yet still enjoys, and wants to keep, his job,” who is called – – ordered, really – – to hear the confession of Alfred Orrock, the patriarch of the island with the reputation, well-earned, as a tyrant, and now at death’s door.  The day does not end well for either man.

The area is brought to graphic life in the wonderfully evocative descriptions by this author.  As are the inhabitants:  “For the most part . . . the natural friendliness of islanders surfaces first.  Sometimes disputes are resolved by burning cars, but not a tourist’s car, and rarely even in the summer, because that’s just bad for the island’s reputation.  Even when it comes to arson, a standard of etiquette is followed.  You wrong me, I burn your dinghy.  I wrong you, you burn my shed.”  Towards the end, things take a much more lethal turn, and the writing at times had me breathless, as in literally holding my breath.

There is a wholly unexpected finish to the novel.  I found this book, as its predecessor, The Storm Murders, very enjoyable, and it is recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, May 2016.