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Review: The Twisted Thread

June 13, 2011

Title: The Twisted Thread
Author: Charlotte Bacon
Publisher: Voice (Hyperion)
Pages: 352
Release Date: June 14, 2011
Format: Galley via NetGalley (Thank you!)

When beautiful but aloof Claire Harkness is found dead in her dorm room one spring morning, prestigious Armitage Academy is shaken to its core. Everyone connected to school, and to Claire, finds their lives upended, from the local police detective who has a personal history with the academy, to the various faculty and staff whose lives are immersed in the daily rituals associated with it.
Everyone wants to know how Claire died, at whose hands, and more importantly, where the baby that she recently gave birth to is a baby that almost no one, except her small innermost circle, knew she was carrying.
At the center of the investigation is Madeline Christopher, an intern in the English department who is forced to examine the nature of the relationship between the school s students and the adults meant to guide them. As the case unravels, the dark intricacies of adolescent privilege at a powerful institution are exposed, and both teachers and students emerge as suspects as the novel rushes to its thrilling conclusion.
With The Twisted Thread, Charlotte Bacon has crafted a gripping and suspenseful story in the tradition of Donna Tartt s The Secret History, one that pulls back the curtain on the lives of the young and privileged.–Goodreads

The Twisted Thread is a murder mystery of the calm variety. Nothing necessarily sneaks up on you, you aren’t wracking your brain trying to figure out who-done-it, nor are you ever sitting with a pit in your stomach because of the incredible suspense. Instead, the story unfolds quietly, and when the facts are all finally presented at the end, you find yourself relieved to know what happened and ready to move on.

Although I liked how the story played out, I found it very slow-paced. I think it’s just an issue with my attention span, because Bacon’s prose are lovely and the characters she crafts are very well-developed, but there were many times that I just couldn’t focus on the book. My mind was everywhere BUT the story and I’d find I was just staring at a page for ten minutes, thinking about other things instead of reading.

I think part of my inability to focus was the fact that the story is told from multiple characters’ perspectives. Typically I really enjoy multi-perspective books, but in this one, I was only really interested in two of the the perspectives, and when those characters weren’t narrating, I became disinterested.

There were also times where I thought that certain characters and details were going to come back into play in a major way; I’d read it and think “Ah ha! I bet that’s super important!!” and then I’d never hear from that character again, or that seemingly important detail never made a comeback. I was sort of annoyed that I never felt the satisfaction of having my hunch be validated. Maybe that is my issue with this book—your hunches and suspicions are never really justified or discounted because it’s NOT that kind of mystery. It’s simply a story of what happens to the people in a small, class divided town when a wealthy girl is murdered and her secret baby disappears.

Overall, The Twisted Thread showcases Bacon’s rich, detail-filled writing and highlights her ability to create a very believable world of both the haves and the have-nots. It’s definitely not a book for those who want an action-packed, shoot ’em up mystery with a swanky detective, but if you’re in the market for a well-plotted book that slowly unfolds, The Twisted Thread will be right up your alley.

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