Monday, March 27, 2017
Once hailed as the golden boy of their town, and now a popular high school teacher, Lucas Haas disappears the same day the body of one of his students is pulled from the river. Trying to wrap her head around the rumors of Lucas’s affair with the teen, and unable to reconcile the media’s portrayal of Lucas as a murderer with her own memories of him, Mia is desperate to find another suspect.
All the while, she wonders: If he’s innocent, why did he run?
As Mia reevaluates their difficult, shared history and launches her own investigation into the grisly murder, she uncovers secrets that could exonerate Lucas—or seal his fate. In a small town where everyone’s lives are intertwined, Mia must confront her own demons if she wants to get out alive. -- Forge
I am always on the lookout for new (or new-to-me) authors to feature in my Mystery Mondays posts, so it just made sense for me to pick up FOLLOW ME DOWN by Sherri Smith. The book's description sounded right up my alley, and there is just something about the cover (which ends up being extremely pertinent to the novel!) FOLLOW ME DOWN is the Ms. Smith's debut fiction title; however, she is better known as the Canadian writer S.L. Smith. So I guess, in a way, Ms. Smith falls under the new-to-me writer!
FOLLOW ME DOWN tells the story of Mia Haas, a woman who fled her hometown for Chicago to make a living as a pharmacist. For the most part, Mia has shed her past and her troubled mother; however, when she receives a call that her twin brother Lucas has gone missing, she returns home. Mia learns that her brother is the suspect in the death of one of his female high school students, and she's determined to prove his innocence.
Going back home for Mia is never easy, and this time the stakes are much higher as she searches for Lucas. The pain from Mia's past challenges with her brain damaged mother come rushing back, and Mia's trouble with a drug addiction do too. Mia can't believe that Lucas had an affair with one of his students, or even worse, murdered her; however, the police department isn't even looking at other suspects. It doesn't help that the cop in charge has had some past dealings with Mia's family.
Mia begins her own informal investigation by talking to family and friends, and she even finds herself doubting Lucas -- if he's so innocent, then why did he run away rather than stay and fight? As Mia's investigation begins turning up details about her brother's life, she suddenly realizes that her own past might not be what she always believed. Can Mia come to terms with her past and her addiction while also proving Lucas's innocence?
I really enjoyed FOLLOW ME DOWN! It was a fast-paced story with quite a few twists and turns, and I can honestly say that I had no idea whether Lucas was innocent or guilty. Or course, I wanted to believe in him, but the evidence was pretty damning! Like Mia, I began doubting Lucas's innocence; however, I also got to the point where I wasn't exactly sure if I could trust Mia. I didn't think of her as a bad person, but she was depending more and more on prescription drugs to help her cope with everything... and I just felt like her state-of-mind was questionable at best.
FOLLOW ME DOWN was Ms. Smith's debut thriller, and I have to say that I was very impressed with her storytelling as well as her character development. I especially appreciated the pacing of the novel -- it was definitely hard to put down; however, her character development was pretty strong too. Mia was extremely complex, as was her relationship with her past; and I thought the author did a fantastic job of showing the issues with a small town and the citizens' small town mentality.
It won't come as a surprise that the truth about Lucas is eventually revealed. However, the ending ends up having almost as much to do with Mia as Lucas... and I'm not even sure I realized how much her past was a mystery to the reader. I appreciated how the stories all came together, and I found the entire novel to be both intriguing and suspenseful.
All in all, I'd say that Ms. Smith has quite the future if she wants to write more thrillers! I definitely recommend FOLLOW ME DOWN to fans of mysteries/psychological thrillers.
Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.
Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.