REVIEW: Last Lullaby, Alice Walsh

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Set in the fictional town of Paddy’s Arm, Newfoundland, Alice Walsh’s debut mystery novel is at once harrowing and homey, equal parts police procedural and diner gossip. When Claire and Bram's only child dies suddenly, it at first appears to be a case of crib death. But when the real cause of death indicates homicide and Claire is arrested as the number-one suspect, her friend, lawyer Lauren LaVallee, promises she’ll do everything she can to prove Claire’s innocence.
As Lauren combs Paddy’s Arm for suspects, amid department politics and small-town talk, leads abound. Why are professors Frances and Annabelle being so secretive about their adopted daughter? What’s behind a troubled student’s sudden disappearance? And who is the mysterious platinum blonde observed at the scene of the crime? Meanwhile, Lauren’s own secret–a case that almost cost her her career back in Montreal–and sudden the return of an ex-lover who wants back in her life, threaten to overwhelm the investigation altogether.

Why do I keep finding myself here? Yet again, thriller/mystery book read and I can confidently say that I guessed the majority of the plot’s conclusion within the first fifty pages or so. Why does nothing ever surprise me anymore? Will I ever find a book that does.
Apart from it failing for me on that aspect, the rest of Last Lullaby had some overwhelmingly positive aspects. For one, it is a very realistic representation of small town life (believe me, I live in one and am constantly trying to get away) with an incredibly large cast that are all related in a variety of unexpected and realistic ways - meaning that the reader is left with an entire hoard of possible subjects. 
But outside of the central mystery, characters are included simply to add depth to the setting, a majority with their own storylines that don’t converge with the main plot. In my opinion, take away the book’s (let’s be honest, rather abysmal) conclusion and it would actually make for a rather good series - with each book shining a spotlight on a different set of characters. Because in Last Lullaby, Alice Walsh manages to throw in a variety of plot-points that are rather unique to the genre and which don’t normally tend to appear in mystery/thrillers; adding another layer to the story, making it stand out from its peers and adding a touch more gossipy intrigue and excitement.
But, however much I love this element of Last Lullaby, I also feel that it took something away from the story. With the sheer amount of characters included in the novel, it took a hell of a long time setting the scene and providing them each with a backstory that when the action of the end reveal finally came, it felt a little flat, rushed and out-of-place. Although that could be a good thing because when it comes to this book’s conclusion, the less pages that took up, the better.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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