Thursday, September 29, 2016

What we're reading: An unusual murder mystery

Fifteen years ago, at the grand Bellweather Hotel, a bride inexplicably shot her groom and then killed herself in room 712. Minnie Graves, the youngest bridesmaid, witnessed the whole thing, and it warped her life. Now, 15 years later, Minnie has returned to confront her demons, on the same weekend that a statewide music festival for high school students has invaded the Bellweather. Two of the young musicians, Rabbit (actual name Bert) and his twin sister, Alice, are immediately caught up in the weird vibe of the hotel when Alice discovers her roommate has either killed herself, been murdered, or disappeared guessed it, room 712.

Yes, that's a wide array of options, but no one is really sure exactly what happened, least of all her sociopathic mother, who happens to be the director of the music festival. Things spiral out of control in all sorts of unexpected directions, as everyone is trapped inside the moldering old hotel by a blizzard and has to deal with their issues, old and new.

Bellweather Rhapsody started out feeling like a cliché, even if it was an enjoyable one, and then turned itself on its ear and surprised me. The set-up was like a combo of The Shining (Stephen King) and Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, and I had resigned myself to enjoying it for that familiarity, with perhaps a few modern twists. But there's a whole lot more going on in this book than just a murder mystery.

The book is really a coming of age story, for both children and adults, compressed into a wild weekend in which the adults reexamine what they've been told, what they've experienced, and what they remember longing for, and the children go through profound alterations due to the catalysts provided by what turns out to be a rather bizarre experience. By the end of the weekend, everyone (well, almost everyone--it is a murder mystery, after all!) comes out the other side changed.

Parts were hilarious, parts were incredibly touching, and I loved the resolution for all the characters. Wonderful! Five stars from me.

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