Firstly, this is categories as a Mystery/Thriller, and I just want to clarify that while at it’s core this is a murder mystery, it’s more the motive behind the murder than a whodunnit. I also would never categorize this book as a Thriller. Going into this book with expectations of a fast paced, thriller will ruin this story for you. With that said, I loved this book. Thompkins had me wrapped up in this story from the very first pages.
A murder/suicide of two boys in a small Pacific Northwest town, has left a path of grief and questions in it’s wake. Recently divorced Isaac, is struggling with the murder of his son Daniel. Lorrie, his next door neighbor, is struggling to fully comprehend that her son Jonah, not only murdered his best friend, Daniel, but unable to cope with his deeds commits suicide. The grief of these two households is palpable until Evangeline, a homeless teenage girl, shows up and reminds the living they have to keep living.
Told in alternating perspectives, Evangeline’s story line really stands out. Abandoned by her mother, she craves a family or even just a friend. Living on the streets has taught Evangeline to be weary of those she meets and who she can trust, and her narrative fully captures her will to survive but also the anger boiling beneath the surface. Tompkins has wonderfully portrayed an teenage girl in turmoil, while reminder the reader that 15 is such a young age to be on your own.
We also see from Isaac’s perspective. Isaac is the opposite of Evangeline. With a deep Quaker faith, he is stoic and uses silence to speak instead of words. Isaac was the most frustrating but also extremely interesting character for me. I really enjoyed getting to learn more about the Quaker faith but also getting to watch his relationships change and grown through the book was a joy.
Our last perspective is from Jonah’s perspective and while a little unsettling, sheds a light on the struggle of mental illness and also blurs the lines of what we, as a society consider to be ‘evil’.
Now my favorite character did not have a point of view because well he’s a dog. But Rufus, Isaac’s dog, is a shining light in this book. Filled with raw emotion, Tompkins has clearing created one of the most genuinely kind souls. All of the character’s emotions could be seen through Rufus’ actions, and honestly I’m a sucker for a good dog character.
As a judicial officer and mediator, Tompkins has completely and utterly ‘nailed it’. Her complete understanding of spiritual health, resiliency, grief, forgiveness, and all around human emotions was impeccable. I know this book is classified as a mystery, and while there is a sort of mystery within these pages, this is much more a contemporary fiction that explores the depth of human interactions.
This book is perfect for fans of Jane Harper’s slow burn mysteries. All the stars for this beautiful portrayal of human interaction.
What Comes After comes out April 13, 2021. Thank you to Riverhead books for my advanced copy for my honest review. If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my instagram @speakingof_books.
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