A story about the search for justice and the fault lines of power and influence in a seemingly idyllic town. Can anyone be trusted?
On the surface, Emerson, Massachusetts, is just like any other affluent New England suburb. But when a young woman is found dead in the nicest part of town, the powerful neighbors close ranks to keep their families safe. In this searing novel, Eden Perry’s death kicks off an investigation into the three teenagers who were partying with her that night, each a suspect. Hannah, a sweet girl with an unstable history. Jack, the popular kid with a mean streak. Christopher, an outsider desperate to fit in. Their parents, each with motivations of their own, only complicate the picture: they will do anything to protect their children, even at the others’ expense.
With a brilliantly woven, intricately crafted plot that gathers momentum on every page, this is superb storytelling told in terse prose―a dynamic read that is both intensely gripping and deeply affecting.
Locust Lane is a murder mystery set in the small, affluent Boston suburb of Emerson, Massachusetts. After a young woman dies, three teens are connected to the murder and their parents deal with the fallout.
Despite being marketed as a mystery/thriller, this book has little suspense. The story really focuses on the aftermath of the murder and reads more like a domestic drama. Essentially, what I expected and what I read were two different things that I will not hold against the author. (But publishers, do better by your authors and market a book accurately!)
Locust Lane is told through multiple points of view: the parents of three teens who are suspects in the murder, the victim’s mother, and an unrelated witness. In all, there are about seven narrators, although they do not receive equal time. Because their mundane names, I would sometimes forget which name belonged to whom. However, once I started reading the chapter, it was clear. I do think that the number of narrators (as well as the writing) limited the characters’ development. The characters largely felt like silhouettes and cliches, rather than fully-formed people.
While the drama that constituted the plot was entertaining, I kept waiting for something actually compelling to occur, particularly after the strong prologue. (Please note that the book starts with the repeated injury of a dog that was very difficult to read.) Alas, nothing ever transpired. In addition, Locust Lane just petered out. There was no real conclusion, no ending, and no clarity about the final events. It almost seemed unfinished, although I am sure Amidon intended to leave it up to readers’ interpretations.
My largest disappointment with Locust Lane was the missed opportunity to say something substantial about suburban culture. The story includes themes of race, privilege, and addiction, but nothing is really said about them. In all honesty, looking back, it kind of made for a pointless book since there was no suspense to make it truly a mystery, no originality to make it a compelling narrative, and no social commentary to make it a worthwhile piece of contemporary fiction.
Overall, Locust Lane is a very readable book but left me wanting more. I recommend it if you are looking for a parents-acting-badly-in-the-name-of-protecting-their-kids book. Otherwise, I think there are more worthwhile books that have either better mysteries or something meaningful to say.
RECOMMENDED FOR SOME
January 17, 2023
Note: I received an e-galley of this book from its publisher, Celadon Books. Regardless, I always provide a fair and honest review.