A body burns in the high desert hills. A boy walks into a fire station, pale with the shock of a grisly discovery. A middle school teacher worries when her colleague is late for work. When the body is identified as local math teacher Adam Merkel, a small Nevada town is rocked to its core by a brutal and calculated murder.
In the seven months he worked at Lovelock’s middle school, the quiet and seemingly unremarkable Adam Merkel had formed a bond
with just one of his students: Sal Prentiss, a lonely sixth grader who lives with his uncles on a desolate ranch in the hills. It is Sal who
finds Adam’s body, charred almost beyond recognition, half a mile from his uncles’ compound.
Nora Wheaton, the school’s social studies teacher, sensed a kindred spirit in Adam – another soul bound to Lovelock by guilt and duty. After his death, she delves into his past for clues to who killed him. Yet, the truth about Adam’s murder may lie closer to home. For
Sal’s grief seems shaded with fear, and Nora suspects he knows more than he’s telling about his favourite teacher’s death.
This unforgettable thriller brings a small American town to vivid life, filled with complex, troubled characters wrestling with the
weight of the past, the promise of the future and the bitter freedom that forgiveness can bring.
I knew The Distant Dead by Heather Young was going to be a five star read from the very beginning. The writing just draws you in and it was impossible to stop reading, once I started.
I’ve read some reviews that say the book starts slow, but I think there was a purpose for that. This is a character driven novel. The part that felt ‘slow’ was given to the reader as a way to get to know the people. Not an info dump, but truly getting to know them like they are real people and I found it fascinating.
I’m not going to sit here and try to explain this plot, because to do so, would cause possible spoilers. The twists in this novel pack a punch. I never saw them coming, and I’m still in awe at how the author led me down one path, and then threw a wrench in it. Amazing.
I loved The Distant Dead. As stated, this is an easy five star read. Highly recommend giving this a read!
*I received a free copy of this book from Random Things Tours to review honestly on the blog tour. All opinions are my own and unbiased.*
Heather Young is the author of two novels. Her debut, The Lost Girls, won the Strand Award for Best First Novel and was nominated for an Edgar Award. The Distant Dead was named one of the Best Books of Summer 2020 by People Magazine, Parade, and CrimeReads.
A former antitrust and intellectual property litigator, she traded the legal world for the literary one and earned her MFA from the
Bennington Writing Seminars in 2011. She lives in Mill Valley, California, where she writes, bikes, hikes, and reads books by other people that she wishes she’d written.
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