Readers' Favorite

June 9, 2024

Atmospheric Mystery Novel is a Compelling Read

by Donna Huber

One peaceful morning, in the small, Puget Sound town of Point Orchards, the lifeless body of Dr. Erin Landry is found hanging from a tree on the property of prodigal son and failed writer, Elijah Leith. Sheriff Jim Godbout’s initial investigation points to an obvious suicide, but upon closer inspection, there seem to be clues of foul play when he discovers that the circumstances of the beautiful doctor’s death were ripped straight from the pages of Elijah Leith’s own novel.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of mystery novel Middletide by Sarah Crouch
June 2024; Atria Books; 978-1668035092
audio, ebook, print (288 pages); mystery

People have been talking about Middletide by Sarah Crouch quite a bit and I've been avoiding reviews so as not to accidentally read a spoiler. Now having read it, it was a wise decision. I will be super careful not to give away anything but if you want to stop reading the review right now I'll sum up my recommendation in a sentence. If you are looking for a compelling mystery with a likeable main character then you need to put this book on your reading list. (You can buy it at Amazon.)

This is not a linearly told story and I know some people hate when a plot jumps back and forth along the timeline. But it is more like flashbacks than a true dual timeline. "Present-day" in this story is 1994. The flashbacks start in the late 1970s when the main character Elijah Leith is a teenager about to leave his small Pacific Northwest town for college in San Francisco with just one dream - to become a famous writer. If it means leaving behind his high school sweetheart so be it.

We stay more in the past as we progress through the 1980s but as the past approaches the novel's present there is more back and forth between the timelines.

I don't mind dual timeline stories and I enjoyed learning about Elijah in real time while being able to keep an eye on the investigation.

A good deal of time was spent describing the land and details of the setting, but in a way that naturally flowed with the narrative. I felt like I was in the small town outside of Seattle. I could taste the plums and feel the sting of nettles. Crouch definitely has a knack for putting the reader into the story.

This is not a perfect novel. There were some issues that really bugged me like a medical doctor mentioning writing a dissertation, unless she also got a research PhD it is unlikely she wrote a dissertation during her medical training. Also, it felt weird she said she celebrated getting her doctorate when most medical students would have said passing their boards or getting their medical license. And while we are on the subject of the medical doctor. I didn't like her character. It wasn't so much who she is but how she is written. When she was heavily featured in the story, the story started to feel more like a young adult novel and I struggled through that section of the book.

But even with the problems, I loved the story and I had to see how the mystery was solved.

I also think this would be a great book for my mystery book club as there is quite a bit to talk about (but I won't mention it in my review so I don't spoil the mystery for anyone).

Buy Middletide at Amazon

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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