The Girl in Kellers Way, Megan Goldin
There's some disquiet about the place these days over the use of "Girl" in titles of books. We all know where it comes from and the marketing decisions that seem to be feeding it. Suffice to say it's a trend that makes me (an old old woman) a bit squeamish. Especially as neither Julie or Mel, the protagonists in Goldin's debut domestic noir - THE GIRL IN KELLERS WAY are girls.They are women dealing with a very real experience that confronts many women - the creepy, controlling behaviour of a man in their lives and violent death.
Told in two main narrative streams, THE GIRL IN KELLERS WAY builds the stories of Julie - wife of psychology lecturer Matt. After Matt's first marriage to Laura ended in tragedy, he rapidly moved on. Marriage to Julie, who took over the care and raising of Matt's young daughter has created a lot of problems for Julie. Jealous of the dead Laura, hooked on a cocktail of drugs and badly out of touch with reality, she's a victim of Matt's manipulation and non-too-subtle white-anting.
The other voice is that of new-cop-in-town Mel, who has moved here after the death of her policeman husband in the line of duty. Now a single mother, she is doing the balancing act between family and the job, and maybe because of that, is super-sensitive to families where things are a little off-kilter. She has a very close look at Julie's life when the discovery of a body on Kellers Way seems to have links to her.
There's obviously intent here in the way that circumstances of these women's lives compare and contrast. Mel's the sensible, by the numbers cop with the standard family issues and the dreadful circumstances of her husband's death to deal with, done in a matter of fact, black is never grey sort of way. Julie on the other hand, whilst less immediately connected to tragedy, is less able to cope and considerably more addled - partly because of the drugs and maybe because that's the sort of person that she is. It sets up a number of possible scenarios for Goldin to play with, giving plenty of opportunity for some seriously twisting and turning plot elements, and a hefty deployment of cliff hangers, keeping the reader in a state of confusion from start to finish.
The idea of the different coping mechanisms of the two main characters is an interesting twist on much of the standard tropes of domestic noir. Add to that an effective playout of tension and unpredictability in the plot and THE GIRL IN KELLERS WAY is worthwhile pursuing - for fans of domestic noir and psychological thrillers.
When a body is found buried near the desolate forest road of Kellers Way, Detective Melanie Carter must identify the victim if she is to have any chance of finding the killer. That's no easy task with fragmentary evidence from a crime committed years earlier and a conspiracy of silence from anyone who might have information.
The one person who may be able to help is Julie West. In a troubled marriage, Julie often jogs along Kellers Way to clear her mind and escape the confines of her suffocating suburban life. Until one day, something happens there that shakes Julie to the core, making her question everything she ever believed about her life, her marriage and even her sanity . . .