"Surrender the Dead is tense and atmospheric and so gripping that it will follow you into your dreams. A haunting tale, gorgeously told." — Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author of Choose Me
From the award-winning author of The Absence of Mercy comes a chilling psychological thriller about a family and community divided by tragedy, and the dark secrets that will set their town aflame.
When Erin Reece left Wolf Point fifteen years ago after graduating high school, she’d planned to never set foot in her childhood hometown again. But an urgent phone call from her father’s doctor leaves Erin with no choice but to return to a place filled with painful memories and wounds that never closed. Two decades ago, people in Wolf Point started disappearing without a trace—including Erin’s mother—and no explanation was ever found.
It’s been years since the last disappearance, but the town is still steeped in suspicion and haunted by the ghosts of the missing. No one is thrilled to see Erin back, including her former best friend, Robbie, who has changed from a spirited, fearless boy to a reclusive shut-in.
Then a body is discovered, buried in a makeshift grave for years . . . on the Reece family’s land. The police reopen their investigation, and the evidence against Erin’s father is damning. After such a long time without answers, the community wants justice. It’s up to Erin to clear her father’s name, but the path to the truth will force her to unearth long-buried secrets and confront a terrible evil. Because in Wolf Point, everyone knows more than they are letting on . . .
“John Burley has an eye for detail, a feel for story, and a deep sympathy for his characters.” — Lou Berney, award-winning author of November Road
When veterinarian Erin Reece finds out her estranged father is critically ill, in this uneven psychological thriller from Burley (The Quiet Child), she reluctantly leaves her practice in Colorado and drives to her hometown in northeastern Montana to visit him. The return unearths dark memories of a childhood during which 16 people vanished over a three-year span, including her own mother. When Erin learns that skeletal remains have been uncovered on her father's farm, she's faced with the possibility that her father is a serial killer and that some troublesome secrets from her past may not be as buried as deeply as she thought. Distinctive characters and assured prose ("The aqueduct stretched below her, its long concrete spine like the remains of a dead animal lying in the dust") help compensate for the nonlinear plot's clarity and flow issues and a predictable conclusion. Burley has enough talent that readers will want to see more of his work.
Can you go home again?
Can you go home again? Erin returns home when her father falls ill. After a series of missing persons, including her mother, she left Montana 15 years ago and hasn’t been back. Those missing person cases were never solved.
What is billed as a psychological thriller is really so much more. It’s a mystery along with a story of grief. What starts out very slow jumping from timeline to timeline and pov to pov, turns into well developed characters and an ending you’ll never see coming.
I had a little trouble following things in the beginning, but am glad I stuck with it. And I could sympathize with the kids as they weren't allowed to go anywhere for fear of being the next missing person. It eerily feels a little like today.
I read a lot of mystery/suspense/thrillers and like when there is something a little different. This book falls outside the normal mold. You root for Erin as she exorcises her demons and keep reading to unravel the mystery of what happened to all those missing people