by Kate Moretti
Genres: Psychological Thriller
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In a quiet Pennsylvania town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school baseball field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community.
Beloved baseball coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alicia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the many reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a wayward student, Lucia Hamm, in front of a sleazy motel. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are engaged in an affair, throwing the town into an uproar…and leaving Alicia to wonder if her husband has a second life.
And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police only to have one suspect: Nate.
Nate’s coworker and sole supporter, Bridget Harris, Lucia’s creative writing teacher, is determined to prove his innocence. She has Lucia’s class journal, and while some of the entries appear particularly damning to Nate’s case, others just don’t add up. Bridget knows the key to Nate’s exoneration and the truth of Lucia’s disappearance lie within the walls of the school and in the pages of that journal.
Told from the alternating points of view of Alicia, Nate, Lucia, and Bridget, THE BLACKBIRD SEASON by Kate Moretti delivered a mystery that kept me guessing. A scandal, secrets, dead birds and hidden truths rock a small-town and its inhabitants.
“Where did they come from? Why did they fall? The question would be asked a thousand times…
Until, of course, more important question arose, at which time everyone promptly forgot that a thousand birds fell on the town of Mount Oanoke at all.”
It all begins with thousands of birds fall dead from the sky at the high school baseball game. Everything in town closes, and some folks cover their windows with plastic and refuse to venture out but when Nate Williams, a favorite teacher, and coach, is caught hugging a troubled student in a hotel lobby the birds are forgotten.
The Main Characters and POVs:
- Nate- Married to Alicia, he is a high school teacher and coach for the baseball team. Nate is popular with the townsfolk, administration, and students. Most students have his cell phone number and confide their problems to him. Nate thrives on the attention and feels displaced at home. I struggled with Nate’s innocence, and while filled with good intentions his actions made me scratch my head.
- Alicia- Wife of Nate Williams. Mother and primary caregiver to their an autistic child, Gabe. Alicia is in denial about their son. I would categorize her as lonely. She is unable to determine the truth when the scandal breaks. I struggled with Alicia, but Moretti soon validated her feelings. I felt her struggles with Gabe and admittedly felt sorry for her. Most wives defend their husbands until the truth is revealed, so Alicia’s actions, mannerisms, and comments surprised me.
- Lucia – is a troubled young woman. She is eighteen and comes from a broken home. She feels like an outsider, even within her circle of friends. At school, she is referred to as weird and believed to be a witch. Her journal entries tend to be dark, and she seems fixated on Nate. Lucia’s voice is often unreliable creating tension.
- Bridget- a fellow teacher, who is suffering from depression after losing her spouse. He was Nate’s best friend and the four of them socialized. She becomes an integral part of solving the mystery and scandal that unfolds. She believes Nate is innocent and soon finds her faith tested.
The townsfolk, police, and Lucia’s peers all play a roll in moving events forward and revealing truths as this twisted tale unfolds. Moretti did an excellent job with red herrings, creating believable characters and setting a tone and pace that kept me flipping the pages.
The timeline is nonlinear falling before and after the birds fell. It created an engaging, suspenseful read but it is important to pay attention to the date at the top of each chapter. The further into the story the more tension the reader feels until Moretti brings us to a climactic ending. The story was solid and felt plausible.
THE BLACKBIRD SEASON delivered an addictive tale and was my first encounter with Moretti. I look forward to reading other works by her.The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti delivered a twisted suspense that kept me guessing. Click To Tweet
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