Botanist Gil Hodge arrives on the Maine island of Matinicus intent on cataloging trees and nursing his wounds after a physically and emotionally explosive affair on the mainland. Rather than a respite, however, Gil finds himself staying in a haunted house with a very unhappy ghost, trapped on an island where members of the general populace are suddenly dropping like flies. As he reads through the journals of Hannah, the woman of the house back in the eighteenth century, Gil slowly unravels the mystery of who his specter is, how she died… And why she is suddenly up in arms again all these years later. What he eventually learns about the Matinicus murders is a startling commentary on island life, vigilante justice, and the yearnings of the human heart.
Matinicus is the kind of mystery that stays with you long after you’ve read the final pages. The characters, the setting, and not one but two haunting storylines had me eagerly turning pages from the very start. The novel is told from three perspectives: first person from the laconic, oversexed-but-trying-to-change Gil Hodge; through journal entries penned by Hannah in the eighteenth century; and third person from fifteen-year-old Tiffany. Scott manages each perspective flawlessly — Gil is hilarious, appropriately damaged, and complex enough to easily carry the trilogy the author has planned, and Scott’s insight into the psyche of the average fifteen-year-old — self-absorbed, stubborn, and yet achingly vulnerable to the last — is truly impressive. Hannah’s journal entries and a chilling ghost story add layers and the kind of anticipation that kept me reading deep into the night with most of the lights in the house on.
Beyond ticking all the right boxes when it comes to creating a compelling mystery — spooky setting, intriguing characters, a labyrinthine plot, plenty of unexpected twists, and a monster of a surprise ending — Scott also has a phenomenal way with words. Her descriptions, dialogue, and humor are always pitch perfect; Matinicus is that rarity among books today, a great piece of literature that is still fun, quirky, and one hell of a mystery. This is without question one of the best books I’ve read in recent memory, easily earning five stars and an instant recommendation from me to anyone who enjoys mysteries.
Jen Blood is a freelance writer and editor, reviewer of mystery/suspense novels, and author of the 5-star rated, Awesome Indies-selected mystery All the Blue-Eyed Angels, the first novel in the Erin Solomon series. Visit her website, http://bloodwrites.com, for mystery reviews, excerpts, interviews with authors, and posts on writing craft, indie publishing, and more.