The mountain landscape pictured on Amy Stuart‘s breakout thriller Still Mine has crossed my computer screen many times this year-it was a buzz book for 2016, so I was super excited to crack it open. Apparently it isn’t available in the U.S. until August, so my American readers are getting a jump start! I’ll make it easy on them and just state up front that it’s worth picking up when it comes out.
Having experienced a remote mountain town similar to the book’s setting Blackmore, I easily found myself absorbed in the life of its protagonist, Claire O’Day (not her real name). Stuart does an amazing job of placing us right into the damp, isolated town right alongside her characters, and we experience everything for the first time just like Claire does. We are introduced to her in bits and pieces as the story progresses, quickly learning that she was sent to this strange community to find a missing woman named Shayna, but at the same time, is a missing woman herself. The reader is forced to question Claire’s motives, and her dialogue is usually full of lies, so the reader is forced to play detective for both mysteries. What makes things worse is that Claire was at one point addicted to drugs, as was Shayna, so her actions are far from admirable, and her perspective is untrustworthy. In addition, the small left-over population of this mining town are all struggling with deep-rooted issues, many of them being addicts as well, so the cast of characters is not pretty, to say the least. This of course all leads to a brilliant Twin Peaks like atmosphere, which really appealed to me.
I don’t believe men would enjoy this novel as much as women. I know I’m stereotyping here, but Claire finds herself attracted to all the wrong kind of guys in this town (she hardly has much choice, in her defense), but I think other women would be able to relate to this common love of ‘the bad boy’. I read a review of Still Mine by a male writer, and he found Claire’s behaviour unbelievable, which illustrates my point perfectly. Females will read this book and nod their head internally: we’ve all been there. But don’t read too much into what I’m writing here, this book is hardly a romance, this minor plot line simply progresses the story forward, which I can appreciate as a long-time Murder She Wrote fan. Nothing ever comes of these romantic interests, much like Jessica Fletcher’s adventures back in the 80s and 90s.
So there’s lots of twists and turns in this plot line, which comes together to create the classic ‘thriller’ experience for the reader. I’m going to go ahead and call this book the 2016 Girl on the Train read for the summer. The characters are engaging, and Stuart keeps us guessing throughout-what could be better?