Liz Rigbey, Summer Time (2003)

This is the writer´s second standalone. Liz (or Elizabeth) Rigbey grew up in America but lives in the UK today. My review of her debut.

The first lines:

“My mother told my sister and me this story many times. How it took days for the train to cross Russia and how, by the time they reached the border, it was clear that the baby was dead.”

Soon the first-person narrator tells us about another dead baby:

“It´s a spring day, cold, but each time I cross a street the sun appears at the end of it like some advertising gimmick which glimmers from every billboard. I cut through the park. I watch the babies sitting inside their buggies, their bodies passive, their faces uninhabited like people on the subway. It´s a full three years since I held a baby. It´s almost exactly three years.”

And children of all ages who die or are hurt in accidents are a recurrent theme in this exciting but dark story. In the beginning Lucy Schaffer´s family seem to be close-knit and fairly happy despite her poor mother´s schizophrenia. But I turned page after page to find out what on earth was going on beneath the surface.

First-person narrators may deceive us, but as we are reminded here, our own memories may not be very reliable either. So the important question is, whose memories are we supposed to believe?

I bought the book myself. Strongly recommended if you love well-wrought psychological suspense.


About Dorte Hummelshøj Jakobsen

I am a Danish teacher. In my spare time I read, write and review crime fiction.
This entry was posted in American, British, Liz Rigbey, review, review 2011. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Liz Rigbey, Summer Time (2003)

  1. Dorte – Thanks for this thoughtful and well-done review. You’re so right about the reliability of first-person narrative. When it’s done well, though, that adds to the suspense. I’m going to have to look out for this one.

  2. Kelly says:

    I do love a good psychological thriller so I must check this one out more closely. Thanks, Dorte.

  3. Sounds good, but are the dead babies dwelled upon? I am really getting fed up with crime fiction centered on the victimization of children.

  4. Margot: I think you´ll also enjoy the added problem of the narrator who finds out that there is a difference between what we remember and the details of what really happened.
    Kelly: this one is a first-rate mystery.
    Karen: no; this one may be dark and sinister, but it is not gory at all (I would have warned you if it was because very few of my readers like reading about violence against children).

  5. Louise says:

    Sounds like the kind of book I love. It has now bern added to my must-read-list.

  6. I’m glad it’s not gory, but sometimes even just the subject matter gets to me — even without the details. I think I had a bad string of too many books on the subject!

  7. kathy d. says:

    I’m not that big a fan of psychological suspense and would find it difficult to read about violence against children.
    Just reading these segments is giving me chills. It’s just not my cup of tea.
    This is a good reason why there are different genres of mysteries.

  8. Beth F says:

    I bet Mr. BFR would love this. I’m going to suggest it to him.

  9. Louise: good idea.
    Karen: I understand that. As you have probably found out, I also have periods when I read lots of cosy mysteries.
    Kathy: yes, indeed.
    Beth: good idea. And maybe he´ll love it so much that you will have to try it also 😉

  10. Little Bat says:

    Your review is very well stated and accurate. I found this novel began slowly, and the characterisation did not pick up until the middle of the book. But from then on, it was an absorbing and mysterious tale.

  11. Little Bat: You have a point there, but I don´t mind slow a slow pace as long as the characters and the setting are intriguing.

  12. Little Bat says:

    I, too, don’t mind following a story at a natural pace, and a slow pace if that is the way it should be set out. I have now bought a copy of The Hunting Season (2006), Elizabeth Rigbey’s most recent title. It begins with the story of a doctor who goes back to visit his father, who lives in the woods, and he wonders why he has so few memories of his mother, who died years previously … I shall tell you how it goes. It seems very promising.

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