THE CHILD GARDEN by Catriona McPherson Reviewed

Catriona McPherson
September 2015
Midnight Ink

Have you read Catriona McPherson yet? Oh man, are you missing out if you haven’t. Her Dandy Gilver historical series is nothing short of delightful and her award-winning standalones are simply breathtaking.

In her latest standalone THE CHILD GARDEN, Gloria is quietly living her life in a sleepy Scottish village. Every day she visits her disabled son who lives in a nearby home. Her boy is a roommate with the elderly woman whose home Gloria is living in and caring for. One rainy night changes everything. Gloria nearly collides with another car—only to find that it’s an old school crush of hers, Stig. Stig was dragged out on that stormy night by a series of desperate texts from a former classmate of Stig’s named April. He and April went to high school together at the very small school that used to occupy Eden’s—the home where Gloria’s son now lives. Gloria and Stig venture into the woods to meet April, only to find her corpse. Stig is now hiding from the police and Gloria—convinced of his innocence—begins to investigate the death of a boy at Eden’s years earlier, and why Stig’s classmates who were there that dark night are all committing suicide. Or are they?

Gloria is loyal and dependable. In the thirty years since she last saw Stig, she honestly hasn’t changed so much as her hairstyle. Her divorce certainly set her back—her husband was completely uninterested and ashamed of their son. And while the investigation that Gloria undertakes on Stig’s behalf was largely fueled by loneliness and loyalty, I think it was ultimately good for Gloria. It forced her outside of her normal routine, got her talking to people and forced her back into the world—even despite the dire consequences.

McPherson is a master at creating suspense and drama in ordinary lives—common people who are caught up in extraordinary and terrifying events. She deftly creates sympathetic characters and quickly mixes them up in stories that are both engrossing and well paced. It was fascinating to watch the truth unfold in THE CHILD GARDEN. There were more than a few red herrings, and then a wallop of a surprise ending. McPherson never fails to shock and surprise me at the end…she is a true master of storytelling and the craft of psychological suspense.
Erica Ruth Neubauer