I can understand why this has become such a massive bestseller. It has a sympathetic heroine, a vividly realised setting in the coastal marshes of North Carolina, and a murder mystery to tie two different timelines together.
It’s beautifully written and Delia Owens structures it carefully to keep you reading. For want of a better phrase, it’s a really good read. By which I mean it takes its time to involve you in the world of the characters of the story, and to let you not just read about but feel heroine Kya’s growth from abandoned child to damaged, fiercely independent, self-taught adult.
I have one quibble, and it’s got nothing to do with the book, but rather with one of the reviews quoted on the inside front cover. While it doesn’t give away any plot developments, it makes reference to them, and in the process gets the reader ready for something that happens when they should only be concentrating on the story. (I’m doing my best not to say too much.)
It reminds me of the character in the bar in the film I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore, who sees the heroine reading a book he’s read and loved, and then gives away a major plot twist without stopping to think that he’s just ruined the entire story for her. I’ve been trying to think of a suitable punishment for such people and can’t decide between boiling them gently in oil, or locking them up in a library that stocks nothing but Mickey Spillane and The Da Vinci Code.