The Beach Trees by Karen White – Review

beach treesMurder, missing persons, and intrigue spanning four generations in New Orleans and Biloxi Mississippi. And yet this is not a murder/mystery novel, rather the story of a New Englander, via New York, trying to honor the last wishes of her close friend by delivering her five year old orphaned son to his family in New Orleans. This is more complicated than it sounds. They do not know he exists, having had no contact with his mother since she unexpectedly ran away at the age of 18.

The story jumps back and forth between 1950 and 2010, exploring the disappearance of four women and the sometimes unexpected relationship between them all.

The most well written books seem to paint a picture in my mind, allowing me to envision the story as a movie unfolding as I read. This novel easily accomplishes this. The author clearly illustrated the beauty, lushness, and mystery of New Orleans and Carnival; the peace and serenity of the beaches of the Gulf in Biloxi; and the devastation and stubborn spirit of both the land and the people after hurricane Katrina.

The characters were as well developed as the setting, I quickly came to care about them each. I was hooked from page one and completed the book in less than 48 hours, despite its 403 page length. Although the story did come to the expected resolution, the intrigue of the missing persons kept me guessing until the truth was finally revealed in the last few chapters.

I highly recommend this book, but suggest reading on a weekend or vacation – if you enjoy as much as I did you may miss some sleep. And be sure to have the tissues handy. I grabbed for the first one by page three.

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