Little Comfort is the title of Edwin Hill’s debut novel, but it is also an apt description of the reader’s experience while reading this suspense-filled book.
Little Comfort is billed at the first Hester Thursby Mystery, but let’s get that marketing matter out of the way immediately. Little Comfort reads more like a thriller than it does a mystery, so readers should know this going in. There are certainly mysterious elements within the plot, but the thrills remain dominant. And while Hester is no doubt a main character – and the one that will be the focus of the series – Little Comfort is very much an ensemble piece with multiple points of view. It is this weaving of perspectives, building a whole-cloth tapestry, which makes Edwin Hill’s book feel so fresh and innovative.
Of late, much has been made about the lack of diversity in crime fiction – but certainly no one can lay that claim again Little Comfort. Along with Hester – who, at around four-foot-ten inches and eighty-nine pounds, qualifies as a little person – Hill populates his novel with a Benetton commercial’s worth of variety, making the Boston setting feel vibrant and realistic.
As Little Comfort begins, Hester is hired by Lila Blaine to locate her brother who has been missing for over a decade. It doesn’t take Hester long to find Sam Blaine – even though that is no longer the name he is using – but rather than tell her client immediately, Hester decides to monitor the actions of this man and his roommate, Gabe, for a while. It is this decision that puts her and those she loves dearly in the cross-hairs of danger.
Sam and Gabe ran from their home – called Little Comfort – for a reason, and over time they have grown accustomed to living the lifestyle of the rich and famous. Except for the fact that they are doing it on a shoestring budget. How is that possible? This is just one of the many startling things Hester uncovers as she digs deeper into the Blaine Family history.
Along with the case complexities, Edwin Hill also puts Hester in the position of having to care for her very young niece, Kate, while traversing the state looking for answers to each new question. Hester is none-to-pleased with this arrangement and watching her struggle to juggle this situation helps the reader bond with this unique character. Her love of movies – especially horror films – and the constant allusions to them within the novel are another way the author brings the reader closer to Hester.
As one can see, the mystery of “where is Sam?” is answered very quickly, but that revelation serves to launch the thriller aspect of the novel into full bloom. This book is most definitely not a cozy. It is Edwin Hill’s ability to imbue every character with the necessary psychological make-up that keeps readers invested. This is not a book of good versus evil but one of troubled souls on life’s journey where no one is completely innocent, but some stray too far to ever return home.
Readers will react to the originality of Little Comfort and will surely for many return visits with Hester Thursby.
Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.