DISCLAIMER: I received a free copy of The Caretakers in exchange for an honest review.
Eliza Maxwell is an experienced author hailing from Texas. She has written six novels in mystery fiction with a focus on the countryside she grew up calling home. Goodreads authors have applauded her work with an average four star rating across her six titles.
Tessa Shepard is on her way up in the world of documentary film making. After spending time speaking with and fighting for a man incarcerated of a young woman's murder, Tessa and her team are overjoyed for his exoneration. Until, shockingly, he kills again. With the killer on the run from the police, Tessa is drawn back into the media spotlight. Only this time she's the subject.
To make matters worse, Tessa receives news of the sudden and unexpected death of her mother. Following the death, Tessa must reconnect with her twin sister, Margot, and settle their differences once and for all. Unfortunately, that's easier said than done - especially with a killer haunting her days and nights. Most upending of all is the revelation that Tessa and Margot have inherited a strange derelict property, Fallbrook, hidden from them for years by their mother.
The cracked and crumbling building stands as an eerie monument to a horrific crime decades earlier. The property's secrets and mysteries are carefully guarded by ageing siblings: The Caretakers. Desperate for a refuge from the media circus, Tessa runs to Fallbrook, hoping for only to realise that she must face her darkest fears, her own history, and that of her family.
"A small dark seed of worry burrows down deep, settling in. Something is rising. If only she could remember what it is."
Eliza Maxwell, The Caretakers
Although The Caretakers focuses on Tessa there are an abundance of other stories and mysteries woven throughout the narrative. There is the story of Oliver Barlow, ex-prisoner and murderer on the run, Tessa coping with the death of her mother, the mystery surrounding Tessa and Margot's years-long estrangement, questions about the crime that originally put Oliver in prison, the truth behind Fallbrook's disturbing history, and of course, the truth about the Caretakers.
The fact that this list of elements seems overwhelming just goes to show how masterfully Eliza Maxwell has crafted this novel. Maxwell elegantly intertwines the various narratives in an easy-to-follow, enjoyable reading experience. She seamlessly draws information from each character's past throughout the alternating chapters without overloading the reader on information or creating confusion.
A problem that often arises in psychologically-focused novels is a lack of physical action. This is not an issue in The Caretakers. Maxwell has managed to effortlessly use external psychological and emotional pressures to create strong tension throughout the novel, resulting in a true page-turner with real surprises and shocking revelations.
Overall, this is an excellent novel featuring impressive writing skills and story-crafting. I would recommend it for anybody interested in psychologically-driven novels and suspense. I will definitely be picking up another book by Eliza Maxwell in the very near future.
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