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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Reef Road

Narrator: Saskia Maarleveld

Blackstone Publishing

ISBN: 978-1637584965

Publisher: Post Hill Press

Publication Date: 01/10/2023

Format: e-book and audio

My Rating: 5 Stars

When a severed hand washes ashore in the wealthy enclave of Palm Beach, Florida, the lives of two women—a lonely writer obsessed with the unsolved murder of her mother’s best friend and a panicked wife whose husband has disappeared with their children—collide as the world shutters in the pandemic lockdown of 2020.

“Reef Road is magnificent. It feels utterly real, a novel of deeply personal context. It swerves between truth and lies—the lies that lead to an even deeper—and more devastating—truth. Though pure fiction, it reads as compellingly as a mixture of memoir and exposé. It has left me shaken to the core. Deborah Goodrich Royce writes with brilliant understanding of the mystery and occasional grace of trauma.” —Luanne Rice, New York Times bestselling author

A young woman’s life seems perfect until her family goes missing. A writer lives alone with her dog and collects arcane murder statistics. What each of them stands to lose as they sneak around the do-not-enter tape blocking Reef Road beach is exposed by the steady tightening of the cincture encircling them.

In a nod to the true crime that inspired it, Deborah Goodrich Royce’s Reef Road probes unhealed generational scars in a wrenching and original work of fiction. It is both stunning and sexy and, like a bystander surprised by a curtain left open, you won’t be able to look away.

My Review

Author Deborah Goodrich Royce's latest REEF ROAD is a fascinating page-turner crossing multiple genres with a brilliant mix of psychological suspense, mystery, true crime, detective, and literary thriller. Being in my area, loved it even more.

Inspired by a true story, the author's characters come alive on the page with thought-provoking takeaways. The author offers excellent resources and a detailed book club kit on her website.

Set in prestigious Palm Beach, FL, the story begins with two boys discovering a hand with an inscribed wedding washed up on shore.

Two intense storylines of two women converge amid the pandemic lockdown of 2020.

WRITER: Told in first person. A lonely writer obsessed with the unsolved murder of her mother's best friend. The Writer has an eating disorder and she loves her dog. She leads a lonely life. She is highly creative in finding ways to connect with Linda (the wife). She needs to get close to her regarding something her father did years ago that affected her family. She has a story to tell.

WIFE: Told in third-person narrative. A panicked wife whose abusive husband disappeared with their two children. A book within a book.

Linda Alonsos (the wife), and her husband, Miguel, live on Reef Road in Palm Beach with their two young children. Her mother has passed away and her father is in an assisted living facility and has dementia. Linda is in an abusive marriage with Miguel. His brother shows up and then her husband and children go missing. An affair with a police officer further complicates her life.

The wife's life falls apart on Reef Road after the husband and children disappear. There is the eccentric, obsessed writer who is investigating the 1948 murder of her mother's childhood best friend in Pittsburg, PA

The mystery of the mother's childhood friend has to do with the brother murdering and stabbing the sister but was never charged. Then the hand appears, which connects with the Wife's deception.

How are the two women connected, both living on Palm Beach island?

Both The Writer and The Wife, Linda Alonso, are complex, deeply troubled women who ultimately do terrible things—yet, the author writes it so you feel empathy for them. An exploration of the lasting scars a single act of violence can have on those who are not victims.

I loved this book! I also enjoyed reading Debbie's Q&A, where she talks about her takeaway message from the book:

"Healing is possible. But healing doesn't happen by itself. We have to help ourselves and help our loved ones, if we can, to release the grip these old traumas have on us."

In Reef Road, Linda's storyline is complicated by her husband Miguel's family in Argentina. The author touched on Argentina's "Dirty War" during the 1970s and the horrifying rapes and mass murders of young pregnant women.

I enjoyed the literary and Biblical references. There is so much depth to this novel—lyrical, symbolic, beautiful, and haunting. The writing was spellbinding. Even though fictionalized, there is so much truth based on the setting, vivid descriptions, and inspiration from the 1948 tragedy. Can we outrun our past?

I was caught up in not only the mystery of the story but all the landmarks and places of Palm Beach, which I see daily.

AUDIOBOOK: Well done! I look forward to reading my first book by the author, her backlist, and future books. I purchased the e-book and the audiobook was superb, narrated by the talented Saskia Maarleveld. Highly entertaining and highly recommended.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: Jan 10, 2023

My Rating: 5/5 Stars


Being a Palm Beach/WPB gal for 17 years, I loved everything about this book. I enjoyed every landmark which I am very familiar with. From the Palm Beach Bike Lake Trail, where I rode my bike from one end of the island to the other several times a week or more over the years. I am familiar with all the roads (Reef Road), the beach, Intracoastal Waterway (in my front yard), and places the author took her readers. I also shop at the same Publix on the island, the gourmet coffee and pastry shops, the eateries, Worth Ave, Flagler Museum, The Breakers, and restaurants, and I even bank with BOA on County Road. It was closed for a long time during the pandemic and after, so I could not get into my safe deposit box with my new will.

Speaking of the pandemic: I lived in a high rise on the penthouse level on Flagler Drive overlooking the Intracoastal waterway and PB between the Flagler Memorial and Royal Park Bridges. High-rise living is not a place to be during a pandemic. They no longer delivered packages to our doors, forcing us to go out and rent a UPS box, people would not wear masks on the elevators, elevator malfunctions, power outages, wiring issues, etc.

All of this forced me to stay in a hotel across from PB Harbor Marina during high season, which is pricey: (The Ben, Autograph Collection WPB on Flagler) for an extended period. Not what you want to do during a pandemic. After months, I have since moved. No more high-rises.

I had to laugh about the Fabuloso® lavender cleaner. I have to agree with Miguel on this one. I worked with my website design clients/owners for PB and WPB vacation rentals, hotels, and resorts —the housekeepers love this product. I said this product had to go bye-bye when we took the hotels to clean and green.

I felt as though I had run into these characters!


Royce keeps the plot twists coming as she vividly depicts the uncertainty and mistrust generated by the pandemic, which drives both Linda and Noelle inexorably toward madness... This is an expertly paced thrill ride.”

-- Publishers Weekly

“Royce’s murder mystery, involving generational vengeance in the time of Covid-19, would make the ancient Greeks proud. Royce is a wicked good writer…the gears of this clever plot mesh like those of a Swiss watch. A truly absorbing mystery by a writer at the top of her game.”

-- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Reef Road is magnificent. It feels utterly real, a novel of deeply personal context. It swerves between truth and lies—the lies that lead to an even deeper—and more devastating—truth. Though pure fiction, it reads as compellingly as a mixture of memoir and exposé. It has left me shaken to the core. Deborah Goodrich Royce writes with brilliant understanding of the mystery and occasional grace of trauma.”

-- Luanne Rice, New York Times bestselling author

“Reading Reef Road feels like bingeing a particularly addictive true crime series. Mysteries intersect in this haunting page-turner as Deborah Goodrich Royce explores the ripple effect of violence, generational trauma, and the emotional weight of a case gone cold.”

-- Megan Collins, author of The Family Plot

“Superbly written and elegantly structured, the oh-so-talented Deborah Goodrich Royce brings her unique voice and mesmerizing style to an altogether original novel of suspense. Instantly immersive and deeply felt, Reef Road is both intensely personal and powerfully universal. Royce creates a haunting (and surprising!) portrait of a troubled wife—and the relentless writer on the trail of her past. I could not put it down.”

-- Hank Phillippi Ryan, USA Today bestselling author of Her Perfect Life

“Reef Road, a taut, expertly-crafted psychological thriller, grabbed me from the first page and kept me hooked with its many dark twists. Set in Palm Beach, Florida, during the strange, locked-down days of Spring, 2020, the novel alternates between two narratives: an unnamed mystery writer, who is researching the murder in 1948 Pittsburgh of her mother’s childhood friend, Noelle Grace Huber; and Linda Alonso, the unhappily married mother of two young children. As layer by layer is peeled away, the connection between these two women and the long-dead girl is revealed—and along with it, a powerful rendering of how trauma from one violent act can reverberate for generations.”

-- Virginia Hume, author of Haven Point

“Reef Road is a daunting masterpiece. A plot-driven thriller inspired by a real unsolved murder that you won’t be able to put down. This atmospheric thriller satisfies. A stunningly dark read.”

-- Rea Frey, award-winning author of Secrets of Our House

“Taut and suspenseful, Reef Road reveals how one horrific act of violence can reverberate through multiple lives, even generations. Based on a real-life event, this book will keep you turning the pages well into the night as secret upon harrowing secret unfolds.”

-- Wendy Francis, author of Summertime Guests

“Reef Road careens from a decades-old unsolved murder in Pittsburgh, to a grisly discovery washing up on the shore of the breezy, ocean town of Palm Beach. With expert touch and nuance, Deborah Goodrich Royce weaves the lives of a novelist searching for the truth, a bored housewife, and the menacing figure of a man or two, through the claustrophobic, early days of the COVID pandemic. The result is an asteroid-like collision of deceit, guilt, and greed in an unexpected, stunning climax that will stay with you long after you finish reading. A page-turning, incredible read!”

-- Brian Cuban, author of The Ambulance Chaser

“In Deborah Goodrich Royce’s propulsive and riveting novel Reef Road, nothing is what it seems. You will keep turning pages into the night, unraveling the threads of two women’s intersecting lives to reveal a shocking act of violence and the devastating reverberations that echo decades later.”

-- Mary Dixie Carter, author of The Photographer

About the Author

Deborah Goodrich Royce’s thrillers examine puzzles of identity. Ruby Falls won the Zibby Award for Best Plot Twist in 2021 and Finding Mrs. Ford was hailed by Forbes, Book Riot, and Good Morning America’s “best of” lists in 2019.

She began as an actress on All My Children and in multiple films, before transitioning to the role of story editor at Miramax Films, developing Emma and early versions of Chicago and A Wrinkle in Time.

With her husband, Chuck, Deborah restored the Avon Theatre, Ocean House Hotel, Deer Mountain Inn, United Theatre, Savoy Bookstore, and numerous Main Street revitalization projects in Rhode Island and the Catskills.

She serves on the governing and advisory boards of the American Film Institute, Greenwich International Film Festival, New York Botanical Garden, Greenwich Historical Society, and the PRASAD Project.

Deborah holds a bachelor’s degree in modern foreign languages and an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Lake Erie College. WEBSITE



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