by Megan Miranda
RELEASE DATE: July 26, 2022
When a man arrives at a North Carolina mountain hotel looking for clues to his journalist brother’s recent disappearance, the trail that he and the inn’s young manager start to follow leads them back to a sequence of unsolved cases, decades apart, that involve other missing hikers and that may be rooted in the town’s deepest secrets.
Labeled by the national press as “the most dangerous town in North Carolina,” Cutter’s Pass is a pretty place in which hikers have over the years had a tendency to vanish. There were the Fraternity Four, as a group of students came to be called, who disappeared in 1997; Alice Kelly in 2012; Farrah Jordan in 2019; and Landon West in 2022. To Abby Lovett, however, Cutter’s Pass, and in particular the town’s hotel, the Passage Inn, has become her adopted home and her refuge from a troubled past. As manager of the inn, Abby has come to know everybody, to love the wild mountain trails, and to learn that appearances can be deceptive. “Things here were designed to appear more fragile than they were,” she notes of the inn’s folksy touches, “but reinforced, because they had to be. We lived in the mountains, on the edge of the woods, subject to the whims of weather and the forces of nature.” In economical yet elegant descriptions, author Miranda repeatedly conjures up this untamed natural world even as she unspools a labyrinthine plot that has its roots in the distant past but that originates in the present when Trey West appears one stormy night at the Passage Inn. “He believed he could find them all,” Abby realizes when she and Trey, drawn to each other and into the quest for Trey’s missing brother, find a clue that links the most recent mystery to each of the ones that went before. The novel’s characters are deftly sketched and its suspense is nicely tightened, though the plot finally loses itself somewhat in a tangle of strained connections.
A richly atmospheric thriller with a plucky heroine.
Ad Date: July 26, 2022
Page Count: 352
Publisher: Marysue Rucci Books/Scribner
Review Posted Online: June 8, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022
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