Sugar Man’s Daughter – by Lucy Crowe
Review by Julie Carpenter
Sugar Man’s Daughter is a compelling mixture of genres – a mystery/romance/ghost story - that recounts the story of a woman who returns to her home town and her father’s house to find them haunted by the past. The prose is lucid and dreamy and slides easily between the realities of the main characters’ lives and the hauntings that emanate from Nicola’s mind and color her world.
Nicola Thomas has returned to her hometown after her father’s suicide and a failed romance to live in the home she shared with him throughout her childhood. The house is haunted both by his presence the presence of a shadow that has pursued and threatened Nicola for most of her life. Her life is further complicated by her abusive ex and a stranger named Santangelo, a handsome but mysterious man with a quick temper who seems to be unable to deny his attraction for her.
The plot moves steadily, pulling the reader along as the dark forces in Nicola’s life bear down on her. The threads of the story that first seem so disparate are pulled together in a rich tapestry, illustrating how the history of each character intertwines with and compels the others. Nicola steadily inches her way through the dark shadows of her past even when it’s clear that going forward will cause her tremendous pain. She must wade back through the past, her abandonment by her mother, some old friendships that must be questioned, and the strange presence that seems to linger in her house. She must also deal with her compelling attraction to Santangelo and the strange connection she feels to a teenage drug addict who lives in the town.
The characters are memorable and well drawn. Their actions are understandable and sympathetic even when they are compelled by flaws and past mistakes. Even characters the reader might expect to be one dimensional are made human and sympathetic. Because the characters are complicated and real the book is never predictable. The suspense is sustained throughout the story, until the very end.
I recommend this book but be warned: Give yourself some time. When you start it, you will have a hard time putting it down.
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