Like in most small towns, Strathdee knows its residents well and the pace of life can be slow to the point of terminal boredom. No one knows this more than Chris Michaels, local queen of the bar. What has kept Chris on the good path up to now has been her younger sister Bella, all around saint and one of those people that no one has a bad word for. It was always Bella that saw the good in everybody and who propped Chris up when she was in danger of falling down after her marriage went south. It is Bella however that is taken, leaving Chris behind to fend off guilt, grief, and increasing media attention. When the storm of interest in the murder dies down, the town of Strathdee is left to pick up and carry on as best it can. Whilst Chris is one of their own, the sympathies of the town only go so far and Chris is left to go on with life as best that she can. Chris was never the town darling, but she has always up to now felt that she was belonged, and was safe in the regard of a few. Taking the odd truckie home for the night was always a little something that Chris might feel inclined to offer, if she was in the mood, but after the loss of Bella she can only look at familiar faces now with suspicion. When a young journalist offers to take the story to a national magazine, Chris agrees, even though she can feel herself slipping with each new experience of being exposed to the world's hunger for stories about murdered women.
Wouldn't be too quick to classify this one as a psychological thriller as there is very little simmering tension in watching the lead character disintegrate a little day by day. The whole tone of the book is rather desultory, which fits in well with the remote country town setting where things take a while to happen. The death of Bella is a killing without purpose and the struggle that Chris feels in carrying on with normal life is both relatable and genuine. AN ISOLATED INCIDENT has an excellent sense of place and is very easy to project yourself into the setting of the small town who is increasingly being left behind. There is little mystery in this novel, but you will be concerned of how Chris will come out the other side of her grief and face each new day without her beloved sister being in the world. A slow moving novel about loss; both its enormity and of how shocking it is to the grieving that life simply must go on, regardless of what has been unexpectedly and horrifically taken from them.