Book Review: Secrets on Chicory Lane by Raymond Benson

Synopsis: Famous writer Shelby Truman is forced to recall her past and five-decade long relationship to death row inmate Eddie Newcott during a trip home.

Content Notes: Child abuse, graphic violence, and murder

Recommended for: fans of thrillers, pseudo-mysteries, crime novels, gothic (Texan?) Americana

I blew through this book in less than 24 hours – Secrets on Chicory Lane opens with a bang and doesn’t let up until the final page. While I certainly wouldn’t describe it as an “easy and fun” read, it cleverly unspools the relationship between Shelby and Eddie.

   It’s a fast-paced book that darts between past and present, drawing you deeper into the characters’ lives. Even though I recoiled at some scenes – well aware of what sort of awful thing was coming next – I felt a certain pull for the characters that kept me reading.

   The book has a tendency to tell more than it shows (with the phrase “it seemed as if she had aged ten years”/ “aged a decade” appearing at least three times) and the lurid, increasingly graphic violence will undoubtedly turn away some readers. That being said, the characters stayed on my mind long after I’d put the book down.

    Shelby’s first person narration is what makes the book. Her relationship to Eddie and how she struggles to reconcile their past and present are depicted in a way that feels honest and thoroughly gripping. Furthermore, her relationship to Limite, Texas and its townspeople feels authentic, like it’s the sort of place you swear you’ve passed through. In all, it’s a well-paced, thought-provoking thriller.

I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review