Still Mine

Still Mine

A Novel

Book - 2016
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Baker & Taylor
When Clare turns up alone in the remote mining town of Blackmore asking about a local girl named Shayna who disappeared, it turns out that everyone in this place is hiding something just as she does.

Simon and Schuster
Top of the Lake meets The Silent Wife in this taut domestic thriller.

When Clare O’Dey turns up alone and unannounced in the remote mountain mining town of Blackmore, its residents have little reason to connect her arrival to the recent disappearance of local drug addict Shayna Fowles. Already well versed in hiding the details of her own past, Clare plays the part of an amateur travel photographer in search of landscape. In truth, she has been sent to Blackmore by Malcolm Boon, to search for a woman she’s never met. With Malcolm looking over her shoulder from the sidelines, Clare’s instincts are drawn from her own flight from an abusive marriage she felt certain would end in her death.

Clare confronts a town devastated by the closing of its coalmine, the influx of drugs that followed, and riven by the bad blood between Shayna’s friends, neighbours, and family. Despite it all, she fits in to Blackmore almost too well, befriending Shayna’s mother, charming her ex-husband, and embroiling herself in the same destructive world that spelled disaster for Shayna. Just as she seems to find her footing, the past she thought she had diverted returns, and a whole new level of torment rushes in.

Publisher: Toronto : Simon and Schuster Canada, [2016]
Edition: Simon and Schuster Canada edition
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9781476790428
Branch Call Number: FIC Stuar
Characteristics: 311 pages ; 23 cm


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Mar 30, 2017

There are a few themes that work: the opiate abuse and the domestic abuse. But the vague setting (a dying mountain community ...somewhere) and a needlessly mysterious lead character working with an equally mysterious private eye kind of made this a slog.

Feb 06, 2017

The suspense got lost in the messy unfolding. It could have been shorter. Only a modicum of interest kept me going to the end. Not impressed with the ending - too untidy. Couldn't believe that the end was the end.

Jul 14, 2016

A good debut novel. Clare becomes an agent for Malcolm - the reason for this is clarified at the end. I thought there were too many suspects for Shayna's disappearance. Louise was, to me, the strongest character among the other players. I wouldn't describe this as other authors did: nail-biting and riveting - just a pretty good mystery.

samdog123 Jul 13, 2016

A dark suspense novel set in Blackmore--yes, I think the author did that on purpose. Clare is on the run from her abusive husband. In her travels she comes across Malcolm, the man her husband hired to find her. They form a partnership where he promises not to tell her husband where she is--if she helps him locate a woman. It's a strange alliance made even stranger by the creepy setting. Should have been sent in Forks, I think. This gets an okay rating from me. It seems to be on some popular reading lists--give it a go if you like suspense, but don't want anything that's too deep.

May 01, 2016

It's Sunday and I'm lighting a candle for all the precious minutes I wasted reading this book.

Feb 10, 2016

I obtained this book through the Goodreads giveaways program, with the understanding that I would provide an unbiased review. I'm not being compensated for this in in any way.
The central themes of the novel are the flight of a woman from an obsessively controlling husband in one community and the unexplained disappearance of another young woman from another community, a dying former mining town. A subtext is that both women have histories of drug dependency.
Within that context, I will here discuss the elements of story line, character development and style/language. This being a mystery, the story line is necessarily a bit contrived; it's necessary that the fate and whereabouts of the missing woman and who, if anyone is responsible for her disappearance be withheld until near the end. The decision by the hired missing person hunter Malcolm to employ his quarry instead of turning her in to his client requires some suspension of disbelief, but that's OK in this genre. Otherwise, the emotional and/or physical abuse of women and dogged pursuit when they flee is all too common and realistic. Substance dependency just adds another layer of tragedy to the mix.
Ms. Stuart's development of Clare, her protagonist is quite compelling. The fact that she would rather face death than be recaptured by her husband makes for a powerful narrative. (But here I must state a personal bias; although I loathe drug dealers as the scum of the earth, I have great difficulty seeing addicts as victims; unless one is coerced as a young child, taking drugs is a personal choice. Clare is by her own admission a "reckless" person, easily charmed by attractive, dangerous men and I frankly did not like her, even though I was hoping she could escape her pursuer. That dislike unfortunately had to color my opinion of the book as a whole. I will otherwise try to be as objective as possible.) Most of the secondary characters are less fully drawn and to some degree are archetypes (Charlie, the bullying small-town drug dealer, Jared, the philandering husband of the missing woman, Sara, the struggling widowed mother). The most interesting of the lot is the demented Louise who may know something of what befell Shayna if one could only penetrate her confused mind.
Stuart's language is for the most part straightforward as befits the mystery/suspense genre. The introduction of brief stream-of-consciousness interludes in the other voice (that of Shayna) gave Stuart an opportunity to display her lyric skill; that also tightened the psychic connection between Clare and Shayna, very helpful in dramatic motivation. I feel that was the most impressive feature of the book and it would have raised it to "four stars" if I had only found Clare to be a more appealing person.
One further comment: Very clever title, implying two completely different meanings!

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