READERS TELL ALL.
McPherson's novels are less like large events, and more like secret rituals, the ones where blood is shed, lies are told, pacts are made, and lives are sometimes--if you're in a very extreme cult, or just one of the core religions--people die. This is the case in McPherson's latest novel, which doesn't disappoint. Strangers at the Gate is a beautifully written, tightly strung and brilliantly rendered novel which will send even the most experienced crime reader for a loop. Of course, the protagonist (Finn) and Paddy manage to rent out their own expensive space and move to a place which seems perfect, all the way down to Paddy's boss and the boss's wife, everything seems perfect. And I think in life, when we look back on trauma, on desperate and terrifying times, we see things as perfect in the before. And yet, at the novel unfolds, the truths come out, and so many things come to light, we see how the past was never there, and it was never true to Finn, not like she thought it would be.
The necessary understanding of the truth in the past comes at an important time for us, not just myself in America, but around the world, where we gloss over the past, glorify only certain types of heroes, make sure every famous dead person is a martyred saint, and imagine life as it might have been. McPherson's protagonist must work to find out the truth behind the murders of Paddy's boss and the boss's wife as things spin out of control with her need to clear her conscience and, as time progresses, learn the truth about what happened, and why these things happened. As usual, McPherson's novel grabs you from the start, and you grip onto the novel too, ready to explore Finn's adventure, no matter the heartbreak, losses, and ultimately the truth (which can often sting the most). Finn is not a heroine who listens and sits down. She investigates, for better or worse, and she ultimately digs up the past in ways which destroy relationships and explain why certain lives are lost. The truth can be worse than the violence acted upon others in the novel.
McPherson moves past the common "life is perfect UNTIL" scenario, spinning the reader round and round just as she does with Finn, the constantly determined, possibly frightened, but always fighting young woman ready to get down to the bottom of things. Everyone is hiding a secret (clue for all aspiring writers: this is necessary if you want your book to be as fascinating and brilliant at McPherson's) and lives are endangered in every way possible. By the end of the novel, you may be shocked, and you may desperately need to order all of McPherson's lovely books. Don't worry, I've not so expertly hidden the links to purchase from IndieBound or Amazon if you prefer. Either way, start here or start with her earlier books (standalone or series) and find yourself drowning in McPherson. You know, like in a crime novel, the best possible way to drown ever. And share her books with your friends (buy your friends copies of all McPherson's books!). As Strangers at the Gate proves, McPherson is still plowing forward with a ridiculous number of novels and stellar work, the novels she writes always ready to shock and trap you, the dreaded anxious feeling you have when you need to escape but know there's no way out other than to keep reading, get to the end, sleep isn't worth it when it comes to McPherson's books. She is still destroying lives and breaking hearts as much as ever, at the top of her game and so incredibly lovely and kind to readers and fellow writers alike. Follow her on twitter and, again, but her books.