The Field of Wrongdoing
reviewed by Eric Ellis
The Field of Wrongdoing by Lili St. Germain is a darkly graphic standalone crime thriller taking place over a period of years and is based in Gun Creek, a small town in northern Nevada. The novel is told by different alternating narrators and a handful of flashbacks.
Some readers may be dissuaded from reading the novel when learning of the graphic nature of the novel, in both violence and sexual depictions, however, the descriptions, while quite raw and explicit, are not grossly exploitive or purely done for juvenile titillation. Such depictions are clearly for the purpose of propelling this violent and destructive story forward and in a way to create emotive responses from the reader.
The story opens nine years in the past when Leo and Cassie are late teenagers in love, with the two of them spending time in Leo’s home, a refurbished Conex container. Leo’s drug-addicted mother lives in a nearby dilapidated trailer, with both of them being squatters on public land. After Leo discovers a corpse in a nearby well (which includes a dark Coen Brothers-esque opening), suspicion of murder falls upon Leo. The suspicion grows even after he is sent to prison for an unrelated crime and incident that causes Leo and Cassie to separate.
The novel then moves years forward and finds Leo released from prison and returning to his Conex container. Soon, a young teenage girl becomes missing and Leo, still a suspect of the corpse found in his well, again falls under suspicion.
For reasons other than just the search for the missing girl, Leo has also found himself under the close and vengeful watch of the sheriff, a man with secrets of his own, and who also happens to be the stepfather to Leo’s former girlfriend, Cassie.
Almost every character in The Field of Wrongdoing possesses secrets that keep the reader guessing how the story will end and who did what and why.
The writing in this novel is spare enough to still create descriptive mental imagery while not being overwhelmingly wordy, which is found too often in today’s current fiction. In the stark language used in the novel, just as with the graphic scenes, the writer is quite adept at when to intricately describe a scene in contrast to being very limited in the wording in others – in other words, she knows exactly when less is more and when more is needed.
Lili St. Germain also creates characters with depth and different layers, oftentimes being contradictory to the more discernable attributes of characters which allows the characters to be more three-dimensional rather than paper thin.
The Field of Wrongdoing is highly recommended to those fond of dark thrillers and authors such as Mo Hayder, Jussi Adler Olsen, and the writing duo Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom.
The Field of Wrongdoing is set for release on October 12, 2021.
Netgalley provided an ARC of this novel for the promise of a fair review.
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