The community by Christine Gregory

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This is the story of a murder, and a girl gone missing. Christine Gregory provides a teaser with a prologue describing an unnamed woman and a man driving in pouring rain, the woman going into a house to collect clothes and a passport, then joining the man in the car. The reader doesn’t know if this occurs before or after the discovery of the murder: is the woman the body that is discovered, or somebody else, or are they both involved in the murder?

Christine Gregory presents a whole community of characters. It’s a small country town with an alternative community of eco-conscious new-age lifestylers living alongside it. Lars is a former crime investigative journalist living in the alternative community, whilst Davis is the hardened country police sergeant working in the town; and then there are the out-of-town detectives following drug leads. There are a number of townspeople who may hold some clue as to what could have happened. If everybody shared their information together you would probably have the answer to the mystery, but that’s not how things work.

Particularly poignant in this story, is Gregory’s depiction of the barriers that often grow up between teenagers or young people and their parents, and the resentment and frustration that can arise. The characters are all well-rounded and realistic. They all contribute to a puzzle that draws in the reader, without twisted plot devices or obvious red herrings. It’s an absorbing mystery that seems very true to life, and has a satisfying ending without tying up all the ends too neatly.

Themes: Mystery, Murder, Detectives, Parent-child relationship, Drugs.

Helen Eddy