BACKWATER is more than just a mystery. This novel is rich with aspects of history regarding an era that was tumultuous in the world. There are aspects of mystifying, strange phenomena that heightened my curiosity. When I consider a book to read, it is the way that an author weaves their plot and offers depth to their characters that draws me in. Truthfully, the first pages of a book must engage me else I pass it by. In BACKWATER, Felicity Lennie hooked me into her story with the first sentence: 'Rory was dirty..sweat-dirty, stucco-dust dirty, beer-swilling, guts-aching, too-many-years-on-the-street soul-dirty.' She set the hook when I read, '..he felt an overwhelming sense of belonging as if his whole miserable life had been leading to that place..to purify his soul and become a forgotten man.' I had to learn what Rory was all about. The author placed her character, Rory Savage, in an old, dilapidated house overlooking Scuttler's Bay off the Atlantic. Her descriptions of the house, the nearby village of Duchesse Point and the characters who show up vividly enhance the story. From that first chapter, BACKWATER became a novel to savor versus one to hurry through in order to figure out the mystery itself.
This derelict house seems alive at times. Rory has vivid dreams that are scary yet, at the same time, mystifying. Not wanting to take away any suspense for a reader, I'll just add that in the first few chapters, several dreams actually put Rory in unbelievably dangerous situations. Those passages were riveting for me! The author uses this old unlived-in house, an old diary and Rory's dreams to set the plot into motion. The secrets of what happened to a family with 3 girls who lived in this old house during World War II are intricately woven from chapter to chapter. Rory, true to his nature, cannot help but follow the complex threads of the mystery through the revelations from each character that he meets in Duchesse Point.
Felicity Lennie is a master weaver of not just clues to solve suspenseful mystery but even more so, of clues that invite a reader to see below the surface personalities of her characters. In BACKWATER, we meet quite a cast of quirky, intriguing characters. This is one novel that kept me guessing, bringing me snippets of surprising answers until the very end. It is at the end that one discovers a deeper level of truth: 'all is not as it seems' at this old, dilapidated house.