Dragonfly Summer by J.H. Moncrieff
Jo Carter never thought she’d return to Clear Springs, Minnesota. But when the former journalist receives a cryptic note about the disappearance of her friend Sam twenty years before, she’s compelled to find out what really happened. During her investigation, she learns another high school friend has died in a mysterious accident. Nothing is as it seems, and Jo must probe Clear Springs’ darkest corners and her own painful and unreliable memories to discover the truth – and save herself from the killer who could still be on the hunt.
Deliciously twisty and suspenseful from the first minute to the last, Dragonfly Summer proves that no small town’s secrets can stay buried for good.
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This well-constructed mystery will keep you guessing. There are enough suspects and red herrings to sink your teeth into; and the fact that multiple crimes, both past and present, may or may not be connected is an added bonus to the mix. In the end, most of the questions I had while reading were answered, which is usually a good thing. And the final pages surprised me enough to make for a satisfying payoff. If you enjoy suspense with a sprinkling of the paranormal (just the right amount of ghost-y stuff—yay!), this book is for you.
Overall, Moncrieff weaves in some subtle themes. One of these is our connection to the past. A profound question: how accurate are our memories, especially if they’re steeped in trauma? While Jo pokes around her hometown, her friends and their families struggle to piece together their recollections—or bury these recollections as deep as they can. As a result, we (along with Jo) sift through fact and fiction, all the while wondering if any of characters, including Jo, are the same person as they were back then. In fact, this read explores the idea of our history and how it connects to our identity and sense of self. I love that Jo grapples with all of this. Plenty of juicy fodder surfaces in the plot along these lines.
Jo’s experiences, thoughts, and feelings are extremely realistic throughout. I really appreciated her breaking from the stereotypical gender role and coming to grips with that. (Perhaps another subtle theme, methinks.) In her middle-ish age, she hasn’t married nor had any kids. At one point another character even questions Jo’s sexuality because of this. At another point in the story, her being single leads to in an extremely awkward situation with one of her male friends. It’s through these aspects of the book where we see Moncrieff’s knack for making the cast of characters come to life. They are so believable and relatable, partly because each of them is so gloriously flawed. I think that’s truly what makes this novel shine.
Catch this page-turner on Audible. It’s sure to engross you. You might even start seeing some dragonflies in your midst, if you’re lucky…