From the award-winning author of The Absence of Mercy, comes a gripping and darkly psychological novel about family, suspicion, and the price we are willing to pay to protect those we love the most.
It’s the summer of 1954, and the residents of Cottonwood, California, are dying. At the center of it all is six-year-old Danny McCray, a strange and silent child the townspeople regard with fear and superstition, and who appears to bring illness and ruin to those around him. Even his own mother is plagued by a disease that is slowly consuming her.
Sheriff Jim Kent, increasingly aware of the whispers and rumors surrounding the boy, has watched the people of his town suffer—and he worries someone might take drastic action to protect their loved ones. Then a stranger arrives, and Danny and his ten-year-old brother, Sean, go missing. In the search that follows, everyone is a suspect, and the consequences of finding the two brothers may be worse than not finding them at all.
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 8, 2017)
I am going to try to review The Quiet Child as vaguely as possible, because it is a book that could easily be spoiled with too many details and if you like dark and twisty thrillers, you will want to go into it not knowing too much about it. It's set in 1954 Cottonwood, California--interesting to me because Cottonwood is a real town and I lived in nearby Redding as a child--so the town and landscape felt familiar--even if I lived there in the 1970s. Cottonwood is a small town where everyone knows each other, or about each other, which has not been easy on the McCray family as most of the town believes that their six-year-old son, Danny, is the cause of illness and other maladies in the town and he is regarded with suspicion. This isn't easy on his parents--his mother is suffering and weakening from her own illness and his father, Michael, a local high school teacher is trying to cope. While Michael is getting ice cream from the store with Danny and Sean (Danny's 10-year-old brother), a stranger drives off with Michael's car and the boys. Local plumber and part-time Cottonwood Sheriff Jim Kent, along with two Shasta County Sheriff's detectives vow to bring them home--despite the rumors and negative feelings of the town about Danny.
I like the historical aspects of police work in the 1950s--it definitely doesn't make crime solving easy, not having the technology we have today. The author keeps the perspective bouncing around several different characters and keeps the chapters short, building the tension steadily and making the pages fly by. There were several twists and although I had parts figured out, there were some things I did not see coming--which I always enjoy. The book is unsettling--after all it is missing children and it seems that besides their mother and the sheriff, not a lot of people seem to really want Danny back in town--which is something that made me stop and think a bit. The story and its ending have some ambiguity--but it works in this case. This is my first book from John Burley (it's his third), but with storytelling like this, I am sure it won't be my last.
Author Notes: John Burley attended medical school in Chicago and completed his residency in emergency medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. He currently serves as an emergency medicine physician in Northern California, where he lives with his wife and daughter, and their Great Dane and English bulldog.
Find out more about John at his website, and connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.
OK, The Quiet Child was a difficult book to pair with food--but it's what I do and you know I like a challenge. Taking place mostly over about a period of eight or nine days with missing children there was understandably, not much time for food. The few mentions I noted were: ice cream and strawberry ice cream in particular, cotton candy from a fair in a flashback, coffee, sugar, a vanilla shake and a burger with fries, a steamed artichoke appetizer and a glass of wine, lots of tea, milk, scotch, and an unspecified soup.
In the end, I went more with what I was craving than anything truly tied to the book, using the mentions of ice cream and the frequent cups of tea together--making them into a tea affogato. Affogattos--which translates to "drowned" are usually espresso shots poured over a scoop or two of ice cream where it melts into a lovely and delicious mess. Sometimes I make them with espresso or coffee, sometimes I'll sneak a shot of liqueur in there if I'm feeling fancy, I have even tried it with hot chocolate, but I had not yet made them with tea.
You can use any favorite tea and ice cream pairing here--although a fully flavored, stronger tea works best. I wanted to use the traditional vanilla ice cream, and wanting a flavorful tea, I chose a black coconut tea. I received a gift certificate from from Adaigio Teas to try their products a couple of months ago and I have been bad about reviewing and cooking with it (Those posts are coming soon!) so this was a great opportunity to do more than just drink it. Not that there is anything wrong with just drinking it, I have loved all of the flavors I've tried. I love coconut teas and Adaigio's is blended into Ceylon black tea for a wonderful balance and smooth finish.
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
1 serving tea of choice--about 1 1/2 tsp loose leaf or 1 tea bag
4 oz water
2 small scoops ice cream of choice
garnishes and/or cookies to serve (I used vanilla coconut chips & vanilla sugar wafers)
Scoop ice cream of choice into balls and freeze for an hour or two to harden.
When ready to serve: Brew your tea strong, steeping the tea bag or leaves in about 4 oz of hot water until it cools down to warm--about 10 minutes. You want the temperature to be nicely warm (not just off the boil, but not tepid) so the ice cream melts quickly but not immediately. If your tea gets too cool, rewarm it slightly before serving.
Place your ice cream scoops into your serving glass/dish and bring to the table with the warm tea and garnishes or cookies if desired. Pour tea over the ice cream and serve immediately. Enjoy.
Notes/Results: Just a simple bowl of creamy tea goodness. The coconut tea (which is also wonderful on its own) was perfect with the vanilla ice cream--rich and delicious and it was a good balance of sweetness. Although I liked the coconut chips, I preferred my affogato without them and with the sugar wafers for dipping. I will definitely make this again, playing around with different teas--matcha and chai come to mind immediately.
I'm linking this post up to the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.
Note: A review copy of "The Quiet Child" was provided to me by the author and the publisher, Harper Collins, via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.
You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.