After the Eclipse by Fran Dorricott

Cassie Warren is a hot mess, and for pretty good reason. Now entering her third decade of life, she’s recently lost her job as a journalist as well as her relationship and flat in London, and come back to Bishop’s Green, a town that fully capitalizes off the mysticism of its surrounds, to look after her ailing grandmother. Unfortunately, Bishop’s Green doesn’t exactly evoke the best memories. Sixteen years ago, on the day of a solar eclipse, Cassie’s 11 year-old younger sister Olive went missing during the town’s celebrations. Cassie was supposed to be watching her but wanted to make out with her new-found love, and the entangling of the trauma with her burgeoning sexuality has really done Cassie’s head in. Nowadays she self-medicates with alcohol and sleeping pills, but she’s trying to stay sober as she looks after her beloved Gran.

Trouble is, another little girl has gone missing just as another eclipse looms around the corner. Unable to shake the similarities with Olive’s disappearance, Cassie throws herself into investigating what happened to Grace Butler, extending her journalistic services to the girl’s mother as a sympathetic ear who will focus on amplifying the human costs of the case, the kind of support she wishes her family had had all those years ago. But her involvement soon draws the eye of a serial criminal who will not hesitate to harm the ones she loves in order to deter her pursuit.

I really enjoyed unraveling poor Cassie’s perilous inner state, even as I thought it was silly that, of all the people she felt she had to protect from physical harm, a trained police officer was one of them. Marion was 100% better suited to getting into dangerous situations, Cassie. That said, I did enjoy the way Fran Dorricott laid down the twisting paths that pointed to the guilt of various inhabitants of Bishop’s Green. For the longest time, I was convinced the perp was someone quite different from whom it actually was. And while I enjoyed the ending, I did not at any point in the proceedings care for Cassie’s dad. It’s patently unfair for an adult to blame a 14 year-old for the disappearance of her 11 year-old sister, especially when his anger was clearly fueled by his own guilt. And then to allow her distrust of him to impair their relationship is so much horseshit. Terrible, selfish parenting, especially considering what else Cassie goes through growing up.

Anyway, a promising debut from Ms Dorricott that centers a lesbian protagonist trying to break the violent cycle of the past. Interview with the author to come soon!

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