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Tethered: A Novel Paperback – August 11, 2009
From Publishers Weekly
MacKinnon's debut offers an authentic view of an undertaker's job, but the passivity of her emotionally wounded heroinemay exasperate some readers. In Brockton,Mass., lonely Clara Marsh tends to the dead at Bartholomew Funeral Home, whose kindly owner reminds Clara of the undertaker she met as a child at her mother's funeral. When Trecie, a neglected little girl, begins hanging around the funeral parlor, Clara thinks nothing of it until a routine body pickup uncovers a stash of child pornography and Clara recognizes Trecie in a video. The ensuing investigation also points to Precious Doe, an unidentified child murdered three years earlier and whose grave Clara often visits in secret. Aided by a sensitive Irish cop, Det. Mike Sullivan, to whom she's attracted, Clara tries to unravel the mystery, even if that means confronting her own unpleasant past. Some affecting, understated prose only partially redeems the flat story line. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Undertaker Clara Marsh doesn’t believe in God. It’s hardly a wonder; she has had little in life to give her cause for faith. After surviving the car accident that killed her free-spirited mother, she was raised by a grandmother who beat her with a brush and tore out her hair. When Clara finally escapes her grandmother’s clutches, she enrolls in mortuary school and lands a job at a New England funeral home whose kindhearted owners take her in as their own. Clara finds herself drawn to the cold case of “Precious Doe,” an unidentified teen found murdered in the nearby woods. She senses it’s more than coincidence when a neglected young waif named Trecie appears in the funeral parlor where she works. Could Trecie be destined for the same fate as “Precious Doe”? Throughout her life, Clara has taken great pains to remain uninvolved in others’ lives. But this time it’s different. MacKinnon’s fascination with the inner workings of her uncle’s funeral business inspired this haunting, gracefully rendered debut. --Allison Block --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Mike is the Detective in charge of solving Precious Doe's case, and is also dealing with the death of his wife and unborn child a few years prior to the events in the story. When Clara picks up the body of a deceased townsperson, she and Mike discover the man's secret history as a pedophile and work together to find out what if anything that has to do with Precious Doe's murder.
The author has an almost poetic way of writing. The details of Clara's past in particular are so beautifully written that you almost don't grasp the horrors that she has endured. This is definitely not a novel that hammers things into you, instead dropping details like mist.
Definitely has a supernatural aspect to it, which I don't much care for. The writing itself was beautiful and the character development was excellent- except the detective. I just didn't care for the story progression. It was slow, boring at times, and predictable.
It was just okay. I like a good story and don't regret reading it- so if you like to be told a good story, definitely read it.
Clara is a mortician, far more comfortable dealing with the dead, to whom she is gentle, kind, and generous, than she is with the living. It is obvious from the very beginning of the novel that she is a damaged human being--so very damaged. The details of her past are only gradually revealed in the story, but her pain is evident from the beginning. In the course of her work she encounters and obviously empathizes with a battered, sexually abused, and ultimately murdered little girl. And the police end up asking her help with the case.
Through at least the first half of the book I'd have said that its themes were pain and the extent of the damage that child abuse and pedophilia cause. Only gradually as the book went on and as Clara tried so very tentatively to help with the one case and to protect another family of children from a similar fate did I realize that it was also about her courage to face her own demons and the possibility of hope and renewal.
I don't know why I didn't find this book dark or depressing. The subject matter and main character were certainly gloomy and dismal. I think the supporting characters balanced this out, and I think I related to the inherent goodness of the main character. I read this book rather quickly. I highly recommend it.