Review: One Puzzling Afternoon by Emily Critchley

by Joli
One Puzzling Afternoon Book Review

I’ll admit, any book with “puzzle” in the title, I’ve got to check out. When One Puzzling Afternoon rolled into my inbox, I thought it sounded really good and agreed to read and review it. Did it live up to its puzzling title? Read on to find my review!

The Summary

A mystery she can’t remember. A friend she can’t forget.

I kept your secret Lucy. I’ve kept it for more than sixty years . . .

It is 1951, and at number six Sycamore Street fifteen-year-old Edie Green is lonely. Living alone with her eccentric mother – who conducts seances for the local Ludthorpe community – she is desperate for something to shake her from her dull, isolated life.

When the popular, pretty Lucy Theddle befriends Edie, she thinks all her troubles are over. But Lucy has a secret, one Edie is not certain she should keep . . .

Then Lucy goes missing.

2018. Edie is eighty-four and still living in Ludthorpe. When one day she glimpses Lucy Theddle, still looking the same as she did at fifteen, her family write it off as one of her many mix ups. There’s a lot Edie gets confused about these days. A lot she finds difficult to remember. But what she does know is this: she must find out what happened to Lucy, all those years ago . . .

My Review

One Puzzling Afternoon was just what I was hoping for. It was a mystery with a lot of heart, and it was truly unique.

First of all, the narrator of this story is an elderly woman who has a lot of “mix-ups” in her mind. As the reader, you have a lot of suspicions about what that might mean, but you don’t find out about any diagnosed condition right away. As you jump back and forth between Edie’s memories and her present day, you learn more about her and her family, and the way her memories slip.

Have you heard the term “unreliable narrator” in books? It’s a concept we went over quite a few times when I was in school getting my degree in English. If done well, it can add a lot to a story. In this case, it really added to the mystery for me. The flashbacks are really vivid and detailed in her mind, then present times get more muddled as the book goes on. How much can you really trust her thoughts and her memories, which are what you’re immersed in? This concept really made the mystery elements pop for me.

Plus, Edie can tell her muddles are getting more frequent and it becomes kind of a race against the clock to figure out what happened to Lucy before the forgetfulness takes over her thoughts.

Not only is the mystery exciting as you get closer to figuring out what happened to Lucy so many years ago, but the author really managed to add heart to the story. It’s really not just a mystery, but instead it’s a story of a family and their very much loved mother/grandmother having memory problems. It adds this really important second layer of family and heart to the story.

Overall, I really liked this book! The mystery was captivating, the characters hooked me, and I looked forward to reading this every day to find out what was going to happen. I recommend picking this one up! 4 stars. | Amazon | Goodreads

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