Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Book Review: Rearview Mirror by Stephanie Black (Whitney Finalist)

Title: Rearview Mirror
Author: Stephanie Black
Enjoyment Rating: 7/10
Referral: Whitney Finalist
Source: Electronic Copy
Books I've read this year: 52

New England college professor Fiona Claridge has had a successful academic career, but she's also been haunted by the car accident where she accidentally killed her BYU roommate Mia. She finds herself unable to move on or find love, and she's plagued by guilt. Adding to that guilt is a former student who is getting back at Fiona for accusing her of plagiarism by dredging up some of the more unsavory details of Mia's death. Furthermore, Fiona learns that her ex-boyfriend's mother has died and when she attends the funeral, it turns out that he's held a torch for her all these years (despite marrying someone else). And then the mother's death (and other subsequent deaths) are revealed not to be accidents, after all, and Fiona seems to be in the center of everything. Who killed the old lady? Are they working with Kimberly, the disgruntled student? Is this a mean trick or is Fiona's life in danger?

There's a lot going on in this book. I like the characters-- and particularly like that Black has the courage to create Mormon characters who are flawed, even very flawed and damaged. In years past, it seemed that many of the Whitney mystery/suspense novels shied away from having a Mormon pull the trigger/plunge the knife/shove the old bag in the water, and that isn't the case here (I think I can say that without revealing too much). The story is also interestingly complicated in many ways, with great side stories that tie into the main narrative. But the romance part of the story felt forced and didn't work too well for me. I wanted to see Fiona actually falling for James, Mia's old flame, instead of coming to him in a place of comfort and need.

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