Red Paint calls itself "the friendliest town in Maine," a place where everyone knows one another and nothing too disturbing ever happens. Native son Simon Howe is a sturdy family man--a good father and husband--and owner-editor of the town's newspaper. Because there's rarely any real news, he runs stories about Virgin Mary sightings, high school reunions, and petty criminals.
One day Simon's predictable and peaceful life is disrupted by the arrival of an anonymous postcard, the first in a series of increasingly menacing messages. He tries to ignore them, but the implied danger becomes more real, threatening to engulf his wife and son as well. The Howe family becomes engaged in a full-scale psychological battle with their unidentified stalker--without even knowing it. Secrets from Simon's past are uncovered, escalating toward a tense and unexpected climax.
More than a conventional mystery or thriller, Reunion at Red Paint Bay is an exploration of the consequences of guilt, denial, and moral absolutism. Harrar weaves a dramatic and suspenseful tale sure to spur readers into examining the limits of responsibility for one's actions.
Simon Howe edits the local newspaper in Red Paint, the "Friendliest Town in Maine," a community out of a Norman Rockwell painting where everybody knows everyone and a man losing a toe in an accident at the city landfill is front-page news. The placid surface of Simon's life is ruptured when he begins receiving anonymous postcards from someone who appears to be coming closer and closer to Red Paint. The postcards, we soon learn, are the work of a creepy former local who now calls himself Paul Chambers and believes Simon raped a girl decades ago during a drunken graduation party that Simon only hazily recalls. Harrar, author of novels for adults (The Spinning Man) and young adults (Parents Wanted), does a creditable job of creating an idyllically dull town, but the book is strongest when God-haunted Paul pierces Simon's cocoon of security in a bent quest for revenge, particularly in a chilling chapter when Paul sneaks into Simon's home and watches him sleep. Clumsy plotting mars the conclusion, and Harrar's prose is never any better than serviceable, but those who like their thrillers on the tame side will find a pleasant, if simple, diversion.
Reunion at Red Paint Bay
I'm left with the feeling of blah ... Characters are almost developed yet sustain arcs that seem quite unbelievable. The plot is predictable. The utterly unlikely ending is couched in juvenile, nonsensical illogical logic. Ugh! Disappointing!