Title: Death of a Mermaid
Author: Lesley Thomson
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Publication Date: 7th May 2020
Freddy Power walked out of her childhood home twenty-two years ago, and swore never to return. But now she’s back, helping run her family’s fishery in Newhaven in the wake of her mother’s death.
It feels as if time has stood still. The morning mist hanging over the reed beds, the ghost river that no longer leads to the sea, her mother’s grotto-living room lit by a subterranean light. The only thing that’s really changed is her childhood friendship with Toni and Mags. The three of them were once inseparable. Now, after decades of silence, they feel like strangers.
Freddy is not planning to be in Newhaven for long. But when Mags goes missing, old secrets – and old passions – are reignited. Freddy has to stay to find her friend – even if it means confronting the past, and facing up to the truth.
Death of a Mermaid follows three women who were once the closest of friends – terming themselves ‘the mermaids’ – back in catholic school. One of them, Freddy, must return to her childhood home in Newhaven after her mother’s death and tries to reconnect to both her family and friends after over two decades of estrangement and secrecy. There is a fantastic sense of setting in Death of a Mermaid. The sea is almost a character in itself, since so much of the story revolves around the fishing industry and the force of power that the ocean possesses. I love when a book creates a strong atmospheric connection to it’s setting and the author achieves this beautifully here. There is a mysterious and chilling feeling to the writing that sends a shiver up the readers spine.
The characters in Death of a Mermaid are all interesting and the relationships between them incredibly compelling. I particularly loved the fraught and complicated connection between the ‘mermaids’. Freddy, Toni and Mags all have issues with each other and secrets causing fractures but there is also a really strong sense of loyalty and love apparent despite the long years since Mags and Toni have seen Freddy. Another aspect which worked fantastically well is the family business, Power Fisheries. Family businesses always provide great scope for drama and tension and this one is no exception. The Power family is full of resentment, secrets and darkness which makes for a thorny and intriguing situation once Freddy comes back into the picture.
There was an unpredictable feel to Death of a Mermaid which is something I always look for in a mystery. I had no idea where it was headed for the majority of the book and I could not stop reading until I found out. This is a confident, intense and quietly powerful read that builds to an effective and dramatic crescendo. I think mystery fans will very much appreciate Death of a Mermaid.
I received a copy of the book from the publisher. My review is my own honest opinion.