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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Middletide

Narrator: Kaleo Griffith

Simon & Schuster Audio

ISBN: 9781668035092

Publisher: Atria Books

Publication Date: 06/11/2024

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 5 Stars (ARC)


In this gripping and intensely atmospheric debut, disquiet descends on a small town after the suspicious death of a beautiful young doctor, with all clues pointing to the reclusive young man who abandoned the community in chase of big city dreams but returned for the first love he left behind. Perfect for fans of All Good People Here and Where the Crawdads Sing.

One peaceful morning, in the small, Puget Sound town of Point Orchards, the lifeless body of Dr. Erin Landry is found hanging from a tree on the property of prodigal son and failed writer, Elijah Leith. Sheriff Jim Godbout’s initial investigation points to an obvious suicide, but upon closer inspection, there seem to be clues of foul play when he discovers that the circumstances of the beautiful doctor’s death were ripped straight from the pages of Elijah Leith’s own novel.


Out of money and motivation, thirty-three-year-old Elijah returns to his empty childhood home to lick the wounds of his futile writing career. Hungry for purpose, he throws himself into restoring the ramshackle cabin his father left behind and rekindling his relationship with Nakita, the extraordinary girl from the nearby reservation whom he betrayed but was never able to forget.


As the town of Point Orchards turns against him, Elijah must fight for his innocence against an unexpected foe who is close and cunning enough to flawlessly frame him for murder in this scintillating literary thriller that seeks to uncover a case of love, loss, and revenge.










My Review


Sarah Crouch's spellbinding debut, MIDDLETIDE —is a captivating, atmospheric literary murder mystery of grief, love, loss, and revenge that will keep you glued to the pages by this dazzling new voice in fiction.


About...


From 1973-1994 past to present, we learn about our main character, Elijah, a crime author, returning to his hometown to find himself caught up in a murder as a suspect mirroring his own book.


Jan 1994:

Set in a small town town, Point Richards, in the Puget Sound area, the body of Dr. Erin Landry is found on the property of Elijah Leith.


Aug 1977:

Elijah grew up in the area and left to become a published author. After thirteen years, he returned to renovate his deceased father's cabin. He hopes to reconnect with his first love, Nakita (who lives on the reservation).


Nakita, now a widow, is mourning her husband's (Kailen) death. Her father is Reverend Mills. Elijah had his regrets. He left her high and dry years ago when he was 18 and broke her heart.


Dr. Erin Landry recently lost her daughter in a car accident. Did she commit suicide due to her loss later?


Due to critics, Elijah's published books could have done better. He finished writing Middletide in May of his senior year and then sent out letters to literary agents all over the country. He got a book deal and was delighted, but he left.


1988:

When Elijah sees the cabin, he knows there is much work to do. The cabin has been empty since his father died three years before. He had been so busy pursuing his dream that was all he could think of back then.


Now he burned that book, MIDDLETIDE. The only copy he had left. There was a bad review back when. A critic in the Times based the plot as implausible and said readers wouldn't be able to suspend their disbelief.


Sheriff Jim Godbout has seen his share of accidents. The Squalomah didn't fund a police department. Since most of the reservation fell on this side of the county line, Jim occasionally found himself traveling over the border into the Native American population for emergencies. Now, the Sheriff is investigating Doc Laundry's death. A suicide initially; however, then suspicious turns to murder.


Ironically, someone sent one of Elijah's books (E.M. Leith) to his department anonymously, and the murder seemed to match the one in the book. The typed note someone sent said Erin Landry's death was not a suicide to please read. The book was published on May 20, 1981. Same crime, but the one in the book was in a town off the Louisiana Gulf Coast. Killed in the middle of the night at high tide, which limits the suspects to the folks in town.


The Sheriff even called the publisher since the crime was related to the book. But no killer, no matter how skilled, could realistically commit this type of crime.


Was the book the perfect alibi? Saying he was framed?


They were seen at the marina, and Doc Landry evidently took Elijah out in her boat. When they returned, they had words. Later, two fishermen find her body hanging from a tree, similar to Elijah's book.


Now, Elijah is writing for the local newspaper, the Herald, trying to rebuild his life, and Nakita (an artist) is painting in her studio. She encourages him to write a new book based on his life and love of the area. All goes well until...


Is someone out to frame Elijah for murder and what is the motive? Will Elijah live up to his name? His name is from the Bible, the story of redemption.


My thoughts...


MIDDLETIDE is a beautifully written murder mystery infused with nature, darkness, grief, and literary prose. At its heart is a love story, from the descriptive atmospheric setting to the well-developed characters that come alive on the page with vivid descriptions.


I loved this book and its characters—Nakita, her dad, and Elijah. Nakita was the perfect match for Elijah and their love of art. He was impulsive, and she was the steady one. I enjoyed the tie-in with the Biblical quotes of patience from The Reverend, his wisdom, and his helping these two in their relationship and the legal battle. Erin was a piece of work. The author keeps you guessing until the end.


A mix of coming-of-age, literary, historical, legal, suspense, mystery, thriller, and a bit of romance.


There is loss, grief, and regret; however, there is a beautiful love story. Twisty, chilling, and intense, this is an impressive debut! I adored the writing, the storyline, the plot, and the parallels to the fictional book. Elijah is an interesting character as he struggles to build a new life for himself in his hometown, and he shows a lot of growth in the book with the help of Nakita and her dad. (loved).


Told through past and present timelines, we see the lives of Elijah and Nakita when they were young and in love. Then later, they both have had their struggles and lives and are not the same people they were before. There is no timeline for grief.


Recs...


This is a gripping literary mystery for fans of William Kent Krueger, Allen Eskens, Ron Rash, David Joy, John Hart, Diane Chamberlain, Heather Gudenkauf, and Kimi Cunningham Grant (all favorites). I highly recommend it to those who enjoy literary suspense and smartly written mysteries. Cannot wait to see what comes next.


Thanks to Atria Books and NetGalley for sending me an advanced reading copy for an honest review. I am also looking forward to listening to the audiobook narrated by Kaleo Griffith.



@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

My Rating: 5 Stars

Pub Date: June 11, 2024





Praise



“[A] cunning debut…[with] vivid prose and evocative sense of place…readers will be eager to see what Crouch does next.”

—Publishers Weekly


"With her first novel, Sarah Crouch has hit the ground running. In Middletide, she offers readers an emotionally compelling story of loss, vengeance, and redemption. The characters are wonderfully complex, and every scene is nested in a beautifully evoked sense of place. To top it off, she’s crafted an amazing, twisted mystery with a stunning conclusion. Sarah Crouch’s fine debut novel deserves a place on every reader’s bookshelf."

—WILLIAM KENT KRUEGER, New York Times bestselling author of The River We Remember


“Sarah Crouch’s brilliant debut is a tale of twisted love, revenge, and redemption set against the breathtaking backdrop of Puget Sound. You won’t be able to put this one down.”

—TARRYN FISHER, New York Times bestselling author of Never Never


"Middletide is a riveting mystery with the beating heart of a debut author who has the respect and skill to honor the wisdom of the natural world and the complexity of human desire. In forests thick with both beauty and danger, Crouch's novel is a love letter to the natural world, to the power of friendship, and the willingness to fight for those we love. With the suspenseful timelines drawing ever closer, the pages flying, and a twist that takes the breath, Middletide is an immersive, richly drawn, and wholly powerful experience.”

—PATTI CALLAHAN HENRY, New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Book of Flora Lea


"Middletide is the rarest of novels: a blistering page-turner and a dazzling love letter to the natural world. Tautly plotted, lushly atmospheric, and gorgeously written, Crouch’s debut is stunning. Readers will feel the moss under their feet and smell the petrichor in the air, but they will never guess the twists hidden in this Pacific Northwest forest."

—Katy Hays, New York Times bestselling author of The Cloisters


"In this brilliant debut, the line between fiction and reality blurs, as a failed novelist’s murder mystery is mirrored in real life, with the author as the prime suspect. An enthralling tale of long lost love, loss, and stunning retribution. I absolutely loved it!"

—JAMIE FORD, New York Times bestselling author of The Many Daughters of Afong Moy











About the Author


Photo Credit: Sarah Annerton of Annerton Photography and Design


Sarah Crouch is known for her accolades in the world of athletics as a professional marathon runner. She has had freelance work featured in Active Magazine, Competitor Magazine, and many other titles. Middletide is her debut novel and is set in the Pacific Northwest where she was raised.


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