Sunday 31 December 2017

Last Lullaby

Finished December 26
Last Lullaby by Alice Walsh

A mystery set in a small town in Newfoundland, this novel features the main character of Lauren LaVallee, a lawyer who also teaches at the local college. Lauren is a single mom of a 4 year-old daughter, Bailey, having left Bailey's father when she became pregnant, knowing that a child didn't fit into his plans.
The college is widely known for its drama program, and attracts talent from outside the province. Lauren is friends with many of the other professors. One of them is Emma, head of the English department. Emma is also a single mom, with a daughter, Dylan, the same age as Bailey. Both women teach a young woman Jade, who seems to be struggling as a single mom. She hasn't been coming to class or meeting deadlines. They go together to have a talk with Jade. Jade's apartment seems a bit of a mess, but her daughter Cara seems well cared-for, and the two women offer support, but Jade seems too worried about her finances to pay attention.
Lauren is reminded of another friend of hers, Claire, who has recently had a baby, Ariel. Claire has been struggling with postpartum depression, and has delayed her return to work at the college, where she teaches in the drama department. Claire's husband Bram is a local doctor and busy with his practice. Claire's doctor Anya has been helpful, but Claire is still struggling. Lauren makes plans to go see Claire soon.
I liked the characters in the book. There is depth to them. Lauren has some things in her past she isn't proud of, and we gradually find that she isn't the only one with secrets.
Because it is a small town, people connect with each other in more than one way. A local police officer, Rebecca, is also a student in Lauren's legal class at college, and has a child in the same daycare as Bailey. A young man, Patrick, is doing a coop at the daycare, but also sometimes babysits for parents like Jade and Claire. He's nearly finished college and plans to start his own daycare. Two other college teachers, life partners, have just adopted a baby girl, but seem reluctant to have visitors or to bring the baby out for a baby shower. One of them also seems very friendly with Patrick.
When Claire wakes up one afternoon and discovers young Ariel dead, and the death seems to be homicide, Lauren takes the case, and believing in Claire's innocence, looks beyond the obvious, to the possible.
This was a very interesting mystery, and, while I guessed at some things, I didn't figure out others until the end.

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