THE MOURNING HOURS
This debut novel is rich and evocative, told through the eyes of a introspective 9-year-old. While readers may solve the mystery before the book’s reveal, the writing is compelling enough that you want to continue to watch things play out. Characters are multifaceted and intriguing, and DeBoard juggles the large cast well. The Hammarstrom family’s agony comes through for the reader as a visceral feeling. One minor quibble: The balance between past and present feels heavily weighted toward past, and pacing seems rushed once the story returns to the present.
When Kirsten Hammarstrom was 9, she was fascinated with her brother Johnny’s girlfriend, Stacy — so much so that she “helped” get them together. But when Stacy disappears and Johnny is the last person to have seen Stacy, everything in Kirsten’s life is turned upside down as her family disintegrates in the face of small-town judgment. Years later, she and her family return to the town where everything changed and confront the events of the past. (MIRA, Jul., 400 pp., $14.95)