My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Chris Bojhalian’s “Secrets of Eden” is a deceptive novel. I’ve heard it described as court-room thriller without the courtroom or trial. And I can see that, but in many ways it’s a lot more.
The novel centers around the death of Alice and George Hayward. The long-married couple are found dead–she strangled and he of a gunshot to the head. The first ruling is that George killed Alice and then ended his own life, but, as always, the truth is far more complex than just that.
The story unfolds through the point of view of four different first-person narrators. Bojhalian first lets us see the events surrounding the deaths from the point of view of Reverend Stephen Drew, a single minister who, at first, it appears Alice’s death has been the straw that broke the camel’s back in his disillusionment with the ministry and his faith. Drew seeks solace in the arms of Heather Laurent, a best-selling author of books about angels and her own experience when her father killed her mother and then took his own life.
But Steven may know more than he’s telling or lets on. In fact, his desire to leave the town may be more due to his having an affair with Alice while she was separated from her husband. And as the evidence begins to mount, it appears that George could not have taken his own life that night. He killed Alice, but did he kill himself?
The second section unfolds, revealing the investigation through the eyes of a local D.A. Catherine. Hearing her relentless desire to find out the truth and her take on Drew will alter your perception of the characters we meet in the first section.
Again, all is not as it seems and there is a twist in the novel’s final section which is fairly well foreshadowed. It’s not a huge shock, but it’s one that is set up well and that I was able to figure out before I got to the final few pages and it was revealed.
Bohjalian’s story is one that unfolds well and the story told in sections from four different points of view is fascinating and compelling.