review copy; 448 pages
Dark August by Katie Tallo is a highly recommended mystery following a young woman following the leads from the last case her mother was investigating before her death.
Augusta (Gus) Monet learns that her great grandmother, her
last living relative, has just died and that she has inherited the
house in Ottawa,
Canada. She also inherited Levi, the dog she brought with her to
her great grandmother's house as a puppy after her police detective
mother died. Then Gus was sent off to boarding school and has had no
contact with her last living relative. Once in the house, she discovers
in her childhood trunk, hidden among her toys and belongings, some
information her mother hid from the last cold case she was investigating
- the case that may have led to her death. Gus decides to continue her
mother's investigation. The cold case is convoluted and involved, but
Gus is determined to delve into the information and notes to try to
uncover what her mother saw. What she doesn't expect to do is to stir-up
the evil that lurked in the past and may have led to her mother's
Gus is a well-developed character who has had a tragic past. As the
novel continues and the plot begins to unfold, we can see new faucets to
Gus's personality that weren't present in many of the opening pages.
Her intelligence and tenacity is perhaps genetic, as she becomes
increasingly committed to solving her mother's last cold case. And there
are so many questions about so many different aspects of the case and
her mother's investigation.
The narrative starts out slow and really doesn't start to grab your
attention until the story is well underway. I was going to stop reading
it, but fortunately, I forced myself to keep reading and the novel
quickly turned into a page-turning twisty mystery full of complicated
connections. You have to get past the toxic blast due to fracking that
has a town being completely blown up in the past and keep going. (I
petulantly said aloud to myself and a few pets in the room at this
juncture, "I don't want to read a novel about fracking.") The pieces
will slowly start to come together as they lead to new clues and
different questions to ask. This is a novel that becomes better and
better with each page after you get through the slower opening. Stick
with this one and you will be rewarded. The ending totally surprised me.
This is a promising debut novel by Tallo.