REVIEW: After The Eclipse by Fran Dorricott

Series: NA

Book Number: NA

Read this book for: amateur investigation, journalist investigation, personal investigation, LGBTQ+ leads, female leads, abduction thriller, UK mystery

Quick Review: A well-plotted and tense thriller with very human characters and a multitude of twists; a must-read for mystery and thriller lovers!

***

Two solar eclipses. Two missing girls.

Sixteen years ago a little girl was abducted during the darkness of a solar eclipse while her older sister Cassie was supposed to be watching her. She was never seen again. When a local girl goes missing just before the next big eclipse, Cassie – who has returned to her home town to care for her ailing grandmother – suspects the disappearance is connected to her sister: that whoever took Olive is still out there. But she needs to find a way to prove it, and time is running out.

AFTER THE ECLIPSE is a standalone novel by Fran Dorricott with gratifying characters and a great plot. It follows Cassie, a journalist recently moved back to her small town to care, as she becomes involved in the disappearance of a local girl with eerie similarities to the disappearance of her own sister a decade earlier.

While at first glance the plot may sound a bit gimmicky with the eclipse at its heart, this is actually an incredibly well-plotted novel. Dorricott does an excellent job of planting red herrings and false clues, moving more subtly than you would have expected. The end contains multiple twists, and the use of Olive’s story through her own eyes and through her abduction heightens the sense of suspense and tension that grips you throughout. The only criticism I have of this book is that she leaves the reader wanting a bit more information in some places — I’m desperate to know more!

Part of what makes the story all the more engaging is the realism of the characters, who have real, emotional, human problems. Cassie is looking after her grandmother who has dementia, and without saying too much about it (because the elegance of how this is done should be experienced), is one of the LGBTQ+ leads. Her sexuality is never played for drama or excuses, it is simple, straightforward representation in a character who is defined by her intelligence, determination and stubborn nature. This is an incredibly refreshing approach and one that I wish we could see more of in crime fiction, which is often almost comically predictable in the stereotype of the detective. These little character details really bring Dorricott’s cast of characters to life, and make the story intensely, frighteningly real.

Also contributing to the reality and impact of this story are Dorricott’s wonderful pacing and tone. This entire novel has the same intense, suspicious, claustrophobic and paranoid feeling that the first season of Broadchurch carried with it, particularly due to some of the similarities: the small-town setting, the very close involvement of members of the police force, and the shadow of potential guilt that falls on friends and neighbours. It’s brilliantly done, and a masterclass on holding that type of tension while following a main character who is very emotional — she has you engage with the characters, but the characters emotions are separate from the overall story trajectory, which is rare and very technically difficult!

AFTER THE ECLIPSE is a book that any mystery, suspense or thriller lover would enjoy; definitely pick this one up for an interesting story that will keep you guessing, and a cast that will draw you in completely.

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