Mixed Feelings

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Entomologist Cadie Kessler is deep into researching a deadly beetle and the impact it has on New England forest fires when she receives a text from a childhood friend. A body has been found. Upon returning to her hometown, Cadie must confront her past and unearth the secrets she has kept hidden for decades. Will she discover the truth in time or will it all go up in flames?

I really wanted to like this book, but it fell just short of the mark for me. The plot was interesting and I enjoyed the way the storyline switched between past and present. I loved the setting - the small New England town, the beauty of the forest, the serenity of the lake. In many ways the forest was a character in itself. It provided the perfect setting to represent the beauty of childhood and the darkness of a secret.

The descriptions are thoughtful and poetic, but this book could use a heavy handed edit. The same descriptions are used multiple times within a few paragraphs and the excessive and overly dramatic descriptions of taste and smell ultimately detract from the story.

This book covers a lot of ground - coming of age, environmentalism, bureaucracy, immigration, racial tension, friendship, loyalty, secrets, and it all revolves around a murder. It’s a lot to unpack. Maybe too much for one book. Rather than letting the story speak for itself, it felt like the author was preaching to the audience. I thought this book had a lot of potential, but it was weighed down by unnecessary descriptions and too many topics to fully explore.