This thriller involving the death of a famous photographer and the woman archiving her files more than 20 years later is a gripping descent into depression, obsession, and madness.
Miranda Brand was at the peak of her photography career when she died in what was deemed a suicide. Years later Miranda’s son, Theo, hires Kate to archive his mother’s work and personal files. While going through boxes filled with everything from grocery store receipts to broken pens to film negatives, Kate comes across Miranda’s diary. The more Kate reads the more convinced she is that Miranda didn’t kill herself. But if it wasn’t suicide, who was it that shot Miranda at close range in her own backyard on that long-ago morning?
I loved reading the stories of these two women. From the outside, they don’t appear to have much in common, but as the book progresses their lives begin to have more and more similarities. Both struggle to maintain control over their mental health, and each has suffered deep and humiliating abuse while trying to build their careers. With every revelation, my understanding of the characters and the plot changed: one minute I was positive that Miranda had killed herself, but by the next I was convinced that the entire town was covering for her murderer. Even up until the final chapter, I wasn’t quite sure what I believed. As much as it’s a psychological thriller, this debut novel is also a meditation on art and the pressures of fame as well as the stigma of mental health issues such as post-partum depression and bi-polar disorder. There’s a lot to unpack in just 368 pages, but all of that baggage makes for one damn good book.