When Catriona McPherson puts words to paper, readers can always count on the resulting story being unexpected and successful. Is there nothing this woman can’t write? First she has a much-loved historical cozy series, then she started writing the occasional – and often award-winning – stand-alone suspense novel. Displaying boundless energy, McPherson next tackled a light-hearted and comedic contemporary cozy series. And just last week, Catriona McPherson released her first Gothic suspense stand-alone to her adoring legion of fans. In many ways, Go To My Grave is a synthesis of the styles, tones, and themes that McPherson previously explored while steadfastly making its claim on the Gothic tradition in a most contemporary of ways.
As Go To My Grave opens, Donna Weaver and her mother are about to open a Bed and Breakfast get-away hotel on the shores of Galloway, Scotland. They have restored The Breakers back to its original grandeur and are ready to welcome their first guests. Unfortunately, an unexpected opportunity to host a vendor table at Scotland’s largest wedding convention, means that Donna will have to handle all the tasks related to this first booking solo, but both agree that it will be worth the effort if her mom makes lots of contacts on the show floor.
This first booking is a family reunion of sorts. The guests are comprised of a group of cousins and some of their spouses. As they arrive, Donna uses her usual method of remembering names, which consists of assigning each person with a dominant trait that should help with memory recall over the course of the weekend. Cleverly, McPherson documents this technique very well, so that readers can use it to keep the cast of characters straight while reading the novel as well.
Once all the members have arrived, Donna notices that some of the members seem less than thrilled to be staying at The Breakers. She even sees some of them acting unpleasant and uncaring towards each other. It soon becomes clear that some of this attitude is related to a previous gathering, years before, which just happened to have occurred in this same location. Many of the participants think this is simply a coincidence, but not everyone is buying into that idea.
You see, the event from years earlier – a birthday party for one of the more arrogant gentleman – is shrouded in secrecy. Something happened on that night and as so often happens with the past, it refuses to remain buried. When mementos from that party start turning up throughout the present-day B&B, it becomes a clear case of gas-lighting. But who is the intended target? Flashback chapters detailing the events of yesteryear allow readers to pull together the pieces of this complex puzzle just one step ahead of the characters.
Ultimately, Go To My Grave elucidates the haunting power of past sins and the devastating nature of shared guilt. Catriona McPherson manipulates the trope of a closed circle of suspects to its fullest effect in this novel. The tone of the book is dark, but as she so often does, McPherson manages to interject a few blithesome moments so readers aren’t constantly wallowing in tribulation. In particular, the character development arc for Donna is well-constructed and readers will feel great affinity for her as she struggles to make the best of this bad situation.
For those who are fans of audiobooks, Pearl Hewitt narrates Go To My Grave with just the right touch of a Scottish accent to transport readers to those distant shores. The shorter chapters and clearly delineated time-jumps make this novel one that works particularly well in audio format.
Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher, however, this review is based on both that and a purchased version of the novel as an audio-book. No review was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.