*Received an advanced copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
“Saint X” by Alexis Schaitkin is a novel that centers around a young woman who sees the man suspected in her older sister’s murder years later. Though from the younger sister’s perspective, there are snippets exploring the lives of others who found themselves connected to the murdered college girl.
The novel starts on the picturesque island of Saint X, where the Thomas family is enjoying their summer vacation. While 7-year-old Claire stays with her parents most of the time, her 18-year-old sister Alison runs off and hangs out with the other college-age kids at the resort. Except on the last night Alison doesn’t return. Claire senses something is wrong and tells her parents. A search leads to Alison’s body found in shallow water nearby. Devastated by the loss and the infamous stamp of Alison’s demise, the family returns to New York and eventually moves to Southern California. Claire becomes Emily, using her middle name for a new identity to separate herself from her sister’s well-known murder. Emily returns to New York to work in publishing only to see one of the men accused of Alison’s murder from the island. She begins to follow him and develop a friendship while still sorting out her grief and contemplating on the woman she became in the shadow of the sister she barely knew.
The writing is so seamless and poetic where it captivates the reader, making the book a possible quick read. It’s about a murder mystery with the family behaving the way anyone would expect, but the emotional angles are wrapped under the actions, especially with Claire aka Emily. Other characters get their own chapters such as the suspects who claim innocence and the tourists at the resort who had noticed Alison at some point during their stay and now feel an unwanted connection to her murder.
Overall, it’s a book that will keep your attention and does a good job of unpeeling characters’ layers amid the aftermath of a traumatic event.