Monday, December 3, 2012

Neither a Compeling Mystery nor an Absorbing Family Drama: The Drowning House by Elizabeth Black

Clare Porterfield, a professional photographer, returns to her childhood home in Galveston after the death of her only daughter. Clare is caught up in remorse. Did the famous picture she took of her daughter lead inexorably to her death? Clare is also caught up in remembrance of her own childhood. After she and her best friend, Patrick, started a fire in which a girl lost her life, she was sent to live with her Grandmother. Now she wonders if that was the only reason. Galveston seems to be filled with secrets about her family and earlier secrets about the Carraday family who own the big house across the alley.

The author has a captivating ability to bring you into the area she's describing. You can actually feel the heat, dampness, and decay in Galveston. That's the best part of the book. I couldn't be sure whether the author was attempting to write a mystery or a family saga. In neither case, did she catch and keep my attention. The solution to the mystery is predictable in the first fifty pages.

As a family saga, it lacks the participation of most of the characters. Clare's mother is almost a ghost in the story. Patrick doesn't show up until very late in the book. Will Caraday, owner of the big house across the alley, is a presence, but we never get to know him. Everything is seen from the outside.

I loved the portrayal of Galveston., but if you're reading the book for the mystery, or insight into a dysfunctional family, the novel disappoints. I enjoyed the book, but wouldn't recommend it unless you're especially interested in a story set in Galveston.

I reviewed this book as part of the Amazon Vine Program.