It’s a Mystery: Breakheart Hill, by Thomas Cook

4.0 out of 5 stars First love

Breakheart Hill, narrated by a now middle aged man, is the story of his first love. Ben Wade falls hard for the new girl in town, Kelli Troy, but is too shy to assert himself to her. Ben’s best friend counsels him to make a move, but to no avail. Kelli eventually falls for the school’s top athlete, and breaks Ben’s heart. Shortly thereafter, someone assaults Kelli and leaves her for dead. Thirty years later, the classmates who have stayed in their hometown are still coping with the aftermath of the trauma of her loss. Author Cook knows how to build suspense, page by page. Using a circular pattern of suggesting possibilities and then revealing them, the reader is drawn into Ben’s obsession with the object of his newly born adult desires. It is the slow, relentless crescendo of anticipation that makes this book the success it is. One must recall one’s own adolescence to understand Ben’s fixation, which is extreme, because there truly is nothing special about Kelli to a dispassionate observer, and at times, he becomes annoying. But Cook does a masterful job of portraying the unspoken complicity of those who were most closely involved at the time. Disaster does not develop in a vacuum, and in this tale, at least, the players must eventually face up to and shoulder their share of responsiblity for what happened to Kelli.

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