Flowers. Amy MacKinnon’s debut novel, Tethered, is captivating and haunting. Protagonist Clara Marsh is a mortician, leading an isolated life in a small house on the same property as the funeral home run by her boss, who lives with his wife above the viewing rooms. Clara remodeled her house to add a greenhouse, hidden from view, her secret garden. After she prepares a body, she selects the appropriate flower for that person. Clara’s character as developed by MacKinnon has much in common with the dead and with the flowers: you can see something, but there’s a part that’s missing or dead. After a little girl named Trecie begins to visit Clara and the funeral home, Clara gets caught up in trying to solve the mystery of who murdered a little girl named Precious Doe years earlier. Along the way, Clara meets a widower, detective Mike Sullivan, who is trying to solve the Doe case, and their relationship seems to have potential, but never quite develops. While a promising debut with some fine prose, I found the character development to be weak, and that caused much of what was good in the novel to fall apart for me. More patient readers might enjoy Tethered more than I did. I’m not disappointed that I gave this debut author a try.
Rating: Two-star (Mildly Recommended)