The latest from author Dan Lawton, who also wrote Amber Alert, Deception, Plum Springs and Operation Salazar, THE GREEN HOUSE is a novel about grief, and also about reckoning for the past and hoping for an elusive second chance. Most of Lawton’s previous novels are thrillers, and while THE GREEN HOUSE doesn’t quite slot into that genre, it does have plenty of twists and surprises.
Girard is an older man who lives with his wife Miriam, and is ever-haunted by a tragic event that took place nearly forty years earlier. Then, a strikingly similar tragedy has him examining his life–including his relationship with his long-estranged daughter, Stacey. Information about what’s really going on is parceled out slowly, although it certainly all adds up in the end. A finalist for this year’s 2020 Book Excellence Awards, the novel begins with Miriam, uncharacteristically, disappearing from the couple’s home, along with Girard’s car. In the ensuing shock over what he fears is his wife’s death, he finds himself looking back at another car accident, decades earlier, which changed his life in a heartbreaking way.
Meanwhile, the couple’s daughter, Stacey, resurfaces, and Girard realizes that the alcohol issues he long ago left behind have left a troubling legacy. His saving grace, though, is the titular green house, which functions as something of a tribute to the events of the past- and is also home to some very important flowers. The story unfolds between the present and past, as Girard reflects on the secret he has long kept. There are also visits from the police, who think our elderly hero may be a suspect, as well as much tension with Stacey. It all leads up to a shocking revelation, which lands perfectly and poignantly. The final chapter may be something of a roller-coaster ride, and while some of the religious overtones of the climax have the feel of a deus ex machina, it’s rendered so beautifully that it works anyway.
Dan Lawton has written a lovely mystery novel with THE GREEN HOUSE, about love, grief, and family secrets, packed with both surprises and poignant moments, along with a gorgeous crescendo.
~Stephen Silver for IndieReader