Review: The Mysteries, by Lisa Tuttle

The Mysteries

Laura Lensky’s daughter has been missing for two years. For the police it’s a closed case – Peri wanted to run away – but for Laura, and Peri’s boyfriend Hugh, it’s a different story.

In a last-ditch attempt to find her daughter before she leaves for America, Laura hires private investigator Ian Kennedy.

Drawn by strange parallels to an obscure Celtic myth and his first, almost inexplicable case, Ian takes the job. But his imagination is about to be stretched to its limit, for there are darker and more devious forces at work here than any of them could ever have imagined.

Genre: Fantasy/mystery/paranormal | This edition: Hardcover, review copy | Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books | Publication date: 4th September 2014 | My rating: 5/5

Quickie review time again, because I remain looking down the barrel of Doing All The Things, but some things need to get out of my brain to make room…

It’s an odd thing to think – no, to know – you’ve found one of your favourite writers after only reading two of their books. On the other hand, it can be a marvellous thing as well. The last couple of years have been awesome for me in that respect, and discovering Lisa Tuttle is not least of the reasons why. I read and loved The Silver Bough, also published by Jo Fletcher Books, last year, and decided then and there that I needed more of her books in my life. So when the chance to review this one came around, despite having a pretty hefty blog workload (and a Real Life that was about to get kind of insanely busy), I grabbed it.

I didn’t get around to this book as quickly as I would’ve liked, for which I apologise, but good grief, I’m glad I did. As with The Silver Bough, this book is not action-packed, but the sheer atmosphere pervading it, and the masterful style of storytelling, kept me hooked throughout. From start to finish, this story is, quite literally as the title suggests, a mystery. From the overlying plot to the periodic sidesteps into second-hand accounts of people mysteriously disappearing, even up to and including the ending, this is all about unanswered questions – yet the neatest trick it pulls off is not leaving the reader (or me, in any case) dissatisfied. Curious, yes. Unhappy? Certainly not.

It manages to provide, in a manner of speaking, explanations for the disappearances – Peri’s in particular – that we can follow and accept without giving us more information than we need. Even the explanation itself remains… Well. Mysterious. The trap of ‘too much information’ can be an easy one to fall into. So can ‘not enough information’. Lisa Tuttle walks a fine line between the two, and while I had plenty of questions regarding the story, they were never of the cynical, or even skeptical, variety.

I like mysteries. I love fairy stories. Put both in a Scottish Highlands setting, and all I need is a pot of tea and a few uninterrupted hours. (One of those things may be in short supply at the moment, but in this case they were used, and used well.)

Better yet is Tuttle’s particular choice of Celtic myth. I have no idea if the one featured in the plot is real (so to speak), but it certainly feels authentic. It’s wildly fantastical and deliciously dark and creepy in equal measure, and if that’s not the mark of a good old-fashioned fairy tale, I don’t know what is. (Note to self: look this stuff up!)

So, yes. I may only be two books into her catalogue, but I’d undoubtedly put Lisa Tuttle on my must-read authors list. Her own love of (and respect for) the myths and legends that make Scotland such an intriguing place is in abundant evidence in these stories, and that kind of enthusiasm for one’s subject matter makes any author worthy of note, whatever the flavour of the book in question. If any of what I’ve talked about here sounds appealing to you, then do not miss out on this one!




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