Totally an unexpectedly fun book to read in a really weird way.
What Strange Creatures - Emily Arsenault
Scandal, love, family, and murder combine in this gripping literary mystery by critically acclaimed author Emily Arsenault, in which a young academic’s life is turned upside down when her brother is arrested for murder and she must prove his innocence.
The Battle siblings are used to disappointment. Seven years, one marriage and divorce, three cats, and a dog later, Theresa still hasn’t finished her dissertation. Instead of a degree, she’s got a houseful of adoring pets and a dead-end copywriting job for a local candle company.
Jeff, her so-called genius older brother, doesn’t have it together, either. Creative, and loyal, he’s also aimless in work and love. But his new girlfriend, Kim, a pretty waitress in her twenties, appears smitten.
When Theresa agrees to dog-sit Kim’s puggle for a weekend, she has no idea that it is the beginning of a terrifying nightmare that will shatter her quiet world. Soon, Kim’s body will be found in the woods, and Jeff will become the prime suspect.
Though the evidence is overwhelming, Theresa knows that her brother is not a cold-blooded murderer. But to clear him she must find out more about Kim. Investigating the dead woman’s past, Theresa uncovers a treacherous secret involving politics, murder, and scandal—and becomes entangled in a potentially dangerous romance. But the deeper she falls into this troubling case, the more it becomes clear that, in trying to save her brother’s life, she may be sacrificing her own.
I say it's a fun book in a really weird way because the story itself is kind of heavy. We have a dead girl, her boyfriend is accused of it and rightfully so, all of the evidence is literally pointing to him. But his sister Theresa just knows he didn't do it. She's kind of a life underachiever but she decides to take on the role of detective because she just can't stand to see her brother in prison for something he didn't do. So, that's kind of heavy. What isn't heavy is the author's voice. I've read a few other books by Emily Arsenault and I've enjoyed them, not necessarily because the story itself was so amazing, but it's her writing. Her stories are always well put together and thought through, they give you everything you want out of that genre and you feel like you're traveling on the arc of a good story line, but she's really easy about it. She injects humor and lightheartedness into a story that shouldn't have any of that and in the end, it makes you feel like you not only know these people, but that they could actually be you.
I don't know how I feel about the ending, when we solve the perpetual mystery of Kim's death, because it just didn't feel satisfying? I don't know really what I expected but I just... I don't know. It fits, the story fits together I just feel like something is missing. BUT, the story leading up to all of that? Great. I loved the characters, I loved the weird little town they live in, I love Theresa, I loved the way she gathers her information in order to save her brother, it's just all really fun. Which sounds really messed up because again, we're trying to figure out who killed this poor woman. I mean, that's not a fun story but I really enjoyed this book. Mostly because Theresa seems a little... different, and different in the way you want at least one of your friends to be so you can have coffee with and leave thinking, "well, things might be bad but at least I'm not her" in the best way possible. I also flew through this book in one evening so if you're looking for a fast read with an interesting story? Try this one.