Title: The Sea of Lost Girls by Carol Goodman
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 315 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss
In the tradition of Daphne du Maurier, Shari Lapena, and Michelle Richmond comes a new thriller from the bestselling author of The Lake of Dead Languages—a twisty, harrowing story set at a prestigious prep school in which one woman’s carefully hidden past might destroy her future.
Tess has worked hard to keep her past buried, where it belongs. Now she’s the wife to a respected professor at an elite boarding school, where she also teaches. Her seventeen-year-old son, Rudy, whose dark moods and complicated behavior she’s long worried about, seems to be thriving: he has a lead role in the school play and a smart and ambitious girlfriend. Tess tries not to think about the mistakes she made eighteen years ago, and mostly, she succeeds.
And then one more morning she gets a text at 2:50 AM: it’s Rudy, asking for help. When Tess picks him up she finds him drenched and shivering, with a dark stain on his sweatshirt. Four hours later, Tess gets a phone call from the Haywood school headmistress: Lila Zeller, Rudy’s girlfriend, has been found dead on the beach, not far from where Tess found Rudy just hours before.
As the investigation into Lila’s death escalates, Tess finds her family attacked on all sides. What first seemed like a tragic accidental death is turning into something far more sinister, and not only is Tess’s son a suspect but her husband is a person of interest too. But Lila’s death isn’t the first blemish on Haywood’s record, and the more Tess learns about Haywood’s fabled history, the more she realizes that not all skeletons will stay safely locked in the closet.
The Sea of Lost Girls by Carol Goodman is a compelling mystery which takes place at a prep school along the Maine Coast.
Tess Henshaw is an alumni at the school where she is now an English teacher. She left the school right after graduating only to return several years later with her five year old son Rudy. With the help of headmistress Jean Shire, Tess goes to college and after graduation becomes a faculty member. During college, she dates then marries her former professor Harmon. While she loves her husband, there is tension between them because she is so protective of her now seventeen year old son. Tess is also keeping some very deep and dark secrets about her past. When Rudy’s girlfriend Lila Zeller’s body is found on the beach, how far will Tess go to protect her son?
Tess has a very complicated history that she hopes no one ever unearths. She knows she made several mistakes and unfortunately, some of her misjudgments directly affect Rudy. Feeling guilty about how deeply her past decisions have affected her son, Tess is determined to do anything and everything to protect him. This attitude causes friction between her and Harmon and even though Rudy is staying at the school, the couple’s relationship is still distant.
Rudy is not close to his mom and he maintains an emotional distance from her. He has few friends and he has been the victim of bullying. Rudy has a bit of a troubled past since he is prone to angry outbursts. But to Tess’s delight, Rudy’s relationship with Lila has wrought many positive changes in his life. Needless to say, Tess is quite distressed when he texts her in the middle of the night to pick him up from his “safe place”.
Rudy is co-operative throughout the investigation but Tess holds back information she believes will harm her son. She is so worried about Rudy that Officer Kevin Bantree’s questioning of Harmon takes her completely off guard. Tess has complete faith in her husband’s innocence but will she sacrifice Harmon in order to protect Rudy?
The Sea of Lost Girls is a fast-paced and engrossing mystery with a clever, topical storyline. Tess is a helicopter parent who is desperate to keep damaging details about her past from coming to light. The school is quite elite now but is it also has a dark history that plays an integral role in the unfolding story. Carol Goodman brings this atmospheric mystery to a twist-filled, shocking conclusion. I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend this absorbing mystery to fans of the genre.