All of my reviews are always SPOILER FREE.
I received an advanced copy in exchange for my honest, unbiased opinion. Thank you to the publisher, author, and NetGalley, for allowing me to review.
Title: A Guide for Murdered Children
Author: Sarah Sparrow
Genre: Adult Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Blue Rider Press
Expected Publication: March 20, 2018
Page Count: 400 pages
“We all say there is no justice in this world. But what if there really was? What if the souls of murdered children were able to return briefly to this world, inhabit adult bodies and wreak ultimate revenge on the monsters who had killed them, stolen their lives?
Such is the unfathomable mystery confronting ex-NYPD detective Willow Wylde, fresh out of rehab and finally able to find a job running a Cold Case squad in suburban Detroit. When the two rookie cops assigned to him take an obsessive interest in a decades old disappearance of a brother and sister, Willow begins to suspect something out of the ordinary is afoot. And when he uncovers a series of church basement AA-type meetings made up of the slain innocents, a new way of looking at life, death, murder and missed opportunities is revealed to him.
Mystical, harrowing and ultimately tremendously moving, A Guide for Murdered Children is a genre-busting, mind-bending twist on the fine line between the ordinary and the extraordinary.” (Goodreads)
A Guide for Murdered Children is separated into three books: “Closely Watched Trains”, “The Spirit Room”, and “Local and Express”. While reading the first 25% of this book the first time around I was terribly confused. I honestly had no idea what in the world was happening. The story flipped from past to present and it was challenging to keep everything straight. I almost decided to stop reading it, instead I flipped to the beginning to try again. I’m SO GLAD that I did, because I understood it much better the second time around.
Detective Willow “Dubya” Wylde is presently at a rehab in Arizona. He’s made some really bad choices in life, ruining his career and family. It’s time to make amends and restore balance. The story flips to the past where we meet brother and sister, Troy and Maya on the day they were murdered in Saggerty Falls, Michigan. Back to the present we meet Deputy Lydia Molloy as she falls to her death at the Macomb Orchard Trail and Deputy Daniel Doheny, who dies from a heart attack. In the present eleven year old Winston is also murdered around the same time that Renée “Honeychile” Devonshire dies from an asthma attack. The murdered children’s spirits enter the body of those who have recently died (usually adults except for Honeychile) in order to achieve their moment of balance by killing the person who took their life. As the murdered children’s spirits enter their “landlords”, the “landlord” body comes back to life – so the people who know the “landlords” don’t realize they have died. I hope that made sense. I’ll wait while you go back and re-read that part…Okay, you following me?
Annie, the Porter, greets the new arrivals on the train, giving them the address for the meeting. There are also Subalterns on the train, who are ancient, shadowy beings. Annie, The Porter, knows her replacement is coming soon but doesn’t know who it is yet. At the meeting the murdered children are given the Guidebook of rules they must follow.
Detective Willow has a recurring dream of being on a train. In the dream the Porter gives him an address. When he wakes up he decides to go to the address, discovering it’s the new house of his ex-wife and her new husband Owen, who is Willow’s old cop partner. He makes up a story that he’s there to make amends with both of them, and Owen asks Willow to join his new Cold Case team. In Book Two and Three there are a lot of twists and turns, it kept me turning the pages wondering what in the world was going to happen next.
A Guide for Murdered Children is an extremely out-of-the-box concept of balance and forgiveness. It’s a little far-fetched for a Mystery/Thriller, you’ll have to put aside your questions and just let it be revealed to you.
The main character, Willow, is seriously annoying. I don’t think he experiences enough of a transition to make me like him in the end. If you like unlikable characters he might be right up your alley. Although I did not enjoy Willow’s character, I enjoyed Annie, and Willow’s ex-wife. I would have loved more information about the Subalterns.
The book is too long and can benefit by an editor not afraid to trim the unnecessary bits. If you can get past the first 25%, and let your mind wander outside of reality, then I think you’ll enjoy this thriller.
From what I could figure out A Guide for Murdered Children is written with a pen name, Sarah Sparrow. I attempted some digging around online, but wasn’t able to figure out the real name of the author.