My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Four years ago, Tom and Abby lost their only child, a daughter who disappeared one day while walking her dog. Abby has given up hope, but Tom clings to the slim chance that Caitlin is still alive. Similarly, Abby has given up on the marriage, but Tom clings to what little they have left. The first part of Cemetery Girl paints a somber, realistic, and compassionate picture of the terrible trauma these events have visited upon both parents, but especially Tom.
Then, out of the blue, Tom is contacted by a young exotic dancer who claims to have seen Caitlin. Tom is overjoyed, almost maniacally thrilled, but Abby is frightened and uncertain. The remainder of the novel follows Tom as he attempts to cope with possibilities and untenable realities. As the plot unfolds, his memories of his own childhood and his abusive stepfather resurface, and Tom loses all ability to think and act rationally. Those to whom he turns for advice and support have little to offer him, and it is only circumstance that will determine what becomes of him.
This story is a dark, distressing one, in which all of the characters struggle with deep psychological disturbance. Some of them are coldly detached, while the others wallow in an emotional morass. Oddly, not one entertains the idea that some competent psychotherapy and judicious use of medication could help them make better decisions. Cemetery Girl is a tragedy in the truest, classical sense of the word.