Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Miracle Creek

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
Farrar, Straus and Giroux: 4/16/19
eBook review copy; 368 pages
ISBN-13: 9780374156022

Miracle Creek by Angie Kim is a very highly recommended twisty legal thriller and a notable debut novel.

Young and Pak Yoo and their teenage daughter Mary are an immigrant family from Korea who run a private experimental medical treatment facility in rural Miracle Creek, Virginia. Their "Miracle Submarine" is a pressurized oxygen chamber for hyperbaric oxygen therapy or HBOT, which involves breathing pure, pressurized oxygen. Patients enter the chamber for "dives" that are believed to treat a wide range of issues and medical conditions. Their chamber is located in a barn behind their home. A fire, clearly arson, occurs, which causes the submarine to catch fire and explode, killing two people and injuring four others.

What or who caused the explosion is the focus of this legal thriller. A single mother of one of the patients who died is being charged with murder in the opening scenes. Her actions seem clearly suspect, but this is a complicated story with many suspects. As the trial starts the list of suspects, the secrets and the lies being told seem to multiply. As Kim develops the backstory of all her characters, new information and complications emerge, and the list of suspects grows ever longer as the plot becomes increasingly complicated.

Miracle Creek is an irresistible page turner, merging a dramatic murder trial with in-depth character studies and compelling courtroom scenes. All of the characters have secrets and information they are hiding from that night, but the complications are even more intricate than just a simple omission of a single fact. The suspects will change as you are reading and more facts and secrets come forth. You will feel some empathy or sympathy for all of the characters at least once. All of the lies and omissions will make sense if you have ever encountered a person who always makes themselves look good during all events and can never admit flaws. Even the way the lawyers can twist facts to benefit their clients is telling.

The writing is absolutely excellent and the plot is the perfect synthesis of character development, a complicated mystery, and a legal thriller. I was entrenched in the complicated, detailed plot and really had no clear idea who was guilty or if it would be a perfect storm of lies and mistakes that led to the explosion. The final denouement is very satisfying and ties up all loose ends. This is a brilliant debut novel.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

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