“Book Review: Crickets”
Reviewed by Alexandria Ducksworth
Lee Chappel’s Crickets emits Gone Girl energy to give suspense readers chills
Slow-burn mysteries are my jam. And Lee Chappel stops at nothing to keep us curious.
Crickets starts with Ohio native Kara Peterson. She is a sheriff’s daughter who hasn’t returned to the small town of Paige since her rape. Kara has dreams of becoming a full-time lawyer, but news of her father’s death brings her back to the old home he has left behind.
Now back in town, Kara must deal with a whole Pandora’s box of old issues, especially seeing Dalton’s face all over Paige. He is an aspiring political figure and Kara’s former rape suspect. Every time Kara sees Dalton, all she can think of is what happened that night and the looming sound of crickets.
Meanwhile, the new female cop (Sam) wants to investigate Kara’s old case. Something is not right in Paige, everything too eerily peachy. Most people think Dalton is an innocent man, and Kara is only making things up. But Sam isn’t so quick to believe it. What’s being hidden? And are there more people involved?
To top off her discomfort, somebody is keeping a close eye on Kara and intimidating her to keep her quiet. Since nobody else will re-open the case, it’s up to Sam to sort out the truth.
Chappel strings us along in a painstakingly slow suspense. But with each passing page, the tension is building, the truth is hiding around the corner. The plot is churning forward. Some mysteries work with action; this one works in the silences. I love how preciously Chappel takes narrative time here. It’s the kind of mystery that reminds us of the explosiveness to come like Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl or Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island. Something is off. And something is steadily getting worse.
I also really like the direction in which Chappel takes us in regards to small towns. Chappel’s fictional Paige, Ohio is no different than the big city’s dangers and dark secrets. The citizens are just more hush-hush about it.
Whenever I encounter a sexually traumatized character, I’m rightly nervous. It’s a difficult topic to tackle, and it’s not as simple as just filling out a backstory. But with Crickets and Kara, Chappel approaches the subject with care and realism. This wound is taking years to heal, and we follow Kara as she processes old memories and brings us along her admittedly emotional ride. Her growth beyond trauma feels organic and thoughtful, and I leave the novel grateful for Chappel’s earnest approach.
Overall, Crickets is an alluring and curious psychological mystery. As we encounter the characters’ point-of-views, we are introduced to a full, complicated image of the town of Paige.
Everybody is keeping a secret here. And not every townsperson is your friendly neighbor.
Publisher: Bleau Press
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Print Length: 345 pages
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