By: R. K. Jackson
Publisher: Random House/Alibi
Publication Date: 09/08//2015
My Rating: 4 Stars
Perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn, Paula Hawkins, and Tana French, R. K. Jackson's lyrical, twisty psychological thriller debut follows an aspiring journalist as she uncovers dark truths in a seaswept Southern town—aided by a mysterious outcast and pursued by a ruthless killer.
When Martha Covington moves to Amberleen, Georgia, after her release from a psychiatric ward, she thinks her breakdown is behind her. A small town with a rich history, Amberleen feels like a fresh start. Taking a summer internship with the local historical society, Martha is tasked with gathering the stories of the Geechee residents of nearby Shell Heap Island, the descendants of slaves who have lived by their own traditions for the last three hundred years.As Martha delves into her work, the voices she thought she left behind start whispering again, and she begins to doubt her recovery.
When a grisly murder occurs, Martha finds herself at the center of a perfect storm—and she's the perfect suspect. Without a soul to vouch for her innocence or her sanity, Martha disappears into the wilderness, battling the pull of madness and struggling to piece together a supernatural puzzle of age-old resentments, broken promises, and cold-blooded murder. She finds an unexpected ally in a handsome young man fighting his own battles. With his help, Martha journeys through a terrifying labyrinth—to find the truth and clear her name, if she can survive to tell the tale.
A special thank you to Random House Publishing Group - Alibi and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
R. K. Jackson's enthralling debut, THE GIRL IN THE MAZE, a psycho-thriller of dark secrets in the small historic Georgian coastal town—with a mix of southern Gothic, evil, paranormal, intrigue, history, and suspense.
Martha has been diagnosed and institutionalized for schizophrenia. She hears voices—she is damaged goods. However, she wants to move on and try and get back to some sense of normal. Is she ready to join society?
The Historical Society of Amberleen, Georgia, population of 17,000, five hours from Atlanta, is seeking a full-time intern to assist with a book project. A three month assignment with a stipend. A perfect job for Martha. Helping write a book? A journalist? She can only imagine copies of the book on a shelf in the window of a bookshop with her byline on the cover. “By Martha Covington” seemed magical as she whispers the words to herself in the darkness, over and over.
Near Shell Heap Island, one of the last unspoiled gems of the Georgia Coast-- An island belonging to the Geechees—direct descendants of slaves who were freed after the Civil War. They are direct descendants of slaves, like the Gullah, SC. They have lived in isolation, maintaining a truly distinct culture and system of beliefs. They believe in magic and ghosts. Only seventy-five are left on Shell Heap, mainly elderly. The culture has been preserved orally and only exists in the words and memories of those elders.
The developers continued to come along to grab up pieces of the land, buying off the people, as they picked their way through the communities, like vultures until there was nothing left—wearing them down with lawyers, and fights to save their culture.
The Historical Society has received a grant from the Georgia Trust to capture that history and this is what the book is to be about. Martha is to make sense of the tapes, clean them up, transcribe, research, and help with the interviews.
Martha is delighted to be part of the history of the Geechee people, and the opportunity to help tell their story. She enjoys meeting the shy people and is getting settled into the project, when she thinks she is hearing voices again. She thought she had recovered?
When a shocking brutal murder occurs, she finds herself in the middle of a fiasco, a suspect. Of course, she is an outsider and who will help her? Lenny always whispers, run like hellfire. Martha escapes into the marshes and swamps. She fears for her life-- with her background no one will believe her. Between her own fears, panic, dreams, and madness while trying to solve the mystery of murder -- everything which seems to be a puzzle of dark secrets. Slavery? Evil? Sadness? The voices and demons continue to chant horrible things about her. Is she delusional?
In the meantime, Vince her psychotherapist, in Atlanta questions if Martha had relapsed. What hallucinations had compelled Martha—did she think she was saving someone and killed. Had she turned violent? There was nothing in her case history to suggest a potential for violent behavior. He has to get to her. Her employer was dead. The assailant was someone the old woman knew. All she needs is the news spread, “Mentally ill woman accused of murdering employer.”
Who can Martha trust? Soon she finds Jarrell, struggling with his own battles and maybe he may be able to help her out of this maze of mysterious haunting terror. It is time for the real story of Amberleen.
So weird reading, The Girl in the Maze, while at the same time reading Anne Frasier’s Pretty Dead. Each is different; however, both set in the small Southern Georgia towns (Savannah), dealing with cultures, Gothic and paranormal elements, dark pasts, murder, and secrets to uncover. Jarrell’s character was also an interesting addition to the storyline, as well as the dynamic, Lady Albertha. Hope to hear more from these characters.
A well-researched, absorbing, and chilling suspense, written in beautiful literary prose, highlighting the culture and the vivid southern setting. Being a Georgian, always enjoy the familiar landmarks.
Looking forward to reading more from talented journalist, R. K Jackson. Fans of Lisa Unger and Tana French will enjoy this intriguing tale.
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About the Author
R. K. Jackson is a former CNN journalist who now works at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. He lives with his family in the Los Padres National Forest and is at work on a second Martha Covington thriller, The Kiss of the Sun. Twitter