Wealthy socialite, Nina Rai, disappeared ten years ago in a flurry of animosity with a quarter of a million from her wealthy enclave home. Fleeing into a rain lashed night after another explosive and vicious fight with her domineering husband, Nina resurfaces ten years later with nothing left of her but bones in a forest-hidden wrecked car near the Rai family’s exclusive neighborhood. Seemingly abandoned by his mother, sixteen-year-old Aarav was devastated as they were especially close. The discovery of the decade old wreck throws Aarav into an emotional tailspin. Aarav was already in a difficult place recovering from some serious injuries. The lushly verdant New Zealand landscape enfolds the people and their exclusive Cul-De-Sac homes providing a green atmosphere that is almost a character on its own.
At twenty-six, Aarav has attained fame and fortune with a hit novel and subsequent movie; he is under pressure while recovering from a major car accident to produce that next big hit. As this book reads like a psychological thriller, it is not surprising a lot of things are going on in Aarav’s heard that may or may not be real. The ghostly memories of his mother and their close, but somewhat unhealthy bond in a house that was enmeshed in wrenching emotions, few of them healthy or happy, show how damaged Aarav was by his ever-warring parents.
Growing up in a company of neighbors who seem to harbor secrets of their own, Aarav is determined to uncover the truth about his mother’s death realizing someone in their private reserve knows what happened implying sinister possibilities. Since Aarav is still recovering physically while being on a lot of meds, he struggles to know what is fact or fiction in his personal narrative. Aarav’s chocolate and Coke centric diet, caffeine and sugar seeming to be his drugs of choice, does not help with his clarity of thought either.
Many of the characters in this story are eccentric or entitled because of their wealth and privilege with some being quite unlikable. Aarav’s step-mother and young half-sister offer a bright spot in the disturbing and dark atmosphere. Aarav’s parents did quite a number on him mentally and emotionally so that his adulthood has had little joy. Other recent events in Aarav’s life may cause him to unravel further. Nina Rai’s love came with very sharp edges in which she used her son as a weapon or a pawn at times against his demanding and philandering father.
Ms. Singh’s prose creates an environment of mystery and intrigue leaving the reader wondering what is real and what is an illusion in this finely crafted story. The plot can be challenging at times to disentangle because there are so many possibilities of what actually happened. Aarav’s list of suspects also have complicated histories that intertwine with his family where for all of them, secrets and lies are the order of the day. The twists and turns will keep readers guessing to the end figuring out who is friend or foe in this dark tale which will take a lot of unraveling to reveal.