Wednesday, 28 February 2007


AUTHOR: Donna Tartt


DATE READ: October 2006 (audiobook)

NOTES: Harriet is haunted by the childhood death of her brother Robin and vows to find and punish the murderer. Set in a Mississippi summer – you can feel the heat and dust. The maid Ida Rhew suggests perpetrator is local “white trash” Danny Ratcliffe and Harriet begins to follow him and his brothers. Danny and his elder brother are drug dealers and another brother Eugene is a trainee preacher, hoping to learn to use poisonous snakes in his sermons.

Aided by her friend Hely she breaks into Eugene’s house and the snakes are released. However the brothers see her and from then on are aware of her presence. She sees Danny going up the ladder to a disused water tower and decides to see for herself what is up there (It’s the elder brother’s drug stash which Danny decides to steal to fund his escape from the town) But while she is up there Danny arrives, shoots his brother and comes up to get his drugs (which Harriet has destroyed). He thinks he has drowned her but she fools him and escapes leaving him in the water to drown. But she finds out at the end that Danny was not the murderer at all.

Racism of the time is dealt with with subtlety (dismissal of Ida Rhew, sacking of Hely’s housekeeper, failure to tell Libby’s maid that Libby had died)

Gripping narrative, superb writing and great characterisations.

I first got to know this book as an audiobook. It was beautifully read and great to listen to.

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