On Whidbey Island, the Gray quintuplets are the stuff of legend. Pixie and her brothers have always been bigger and blonder than their neighbors, as if they were birthed from the island itself. Together, they serve as an unofficial search-and-rescue team for the island, saving tourists and locals alike from the forces of wind and sea. But, when a young boy goes missing, the mysteries start to pile up. While searching for him, they find his mother’s dead body instead—and realize that something sinister is in their midst. Edgar-nominated author M. J. Beaufrand has crafted another atmospheric thriller with a touch of magical realism that fans of mystery and true crime will devour.
USELESS BAY is a great mystery, perfect for fans of the show Broadchurch. The island has the feel of a small town, isolated from the rest of the world, though that doesn’t make them any safer. The atmosphere is a combination of creepy, magical, and occasionally somehow comforting. The descriptions of the water and the island are vivid, and the magical realism is so tied to the Gray family and the island that it’s easy to imagine the setting as almost mystical.
Though Pixie and Henry are very likable, the characterization falls a little flat. Neither character develops much, though it is easy to connect with both of them. The family ties both on Pixie’s and on Henry’s side are strong and make a nice part of the story. The splash of romance between Pixie and Henry is also a sweet side plot. Outside of the character development, the plot is magnificent, building well and holding plenty of unexpected twists.
M.J. Beaufrand writes a compelling mystery with an unforgettable island and two families that will do anything to find the truth.