Thank you so much to Celadon Books for the Advanced Reader’s Copy of Saint X, the debut novel by Alexis Schaitkin. This book will be out on February 18, 2020 and it is totally worth the read if you’re looking for some mysterious literary fiction.
I want to preface this review by mentioning that I feel like this book is being marketed as a thriller, and that’s not quite an accurate way to describe it. This is a cerebral mystery, one that causes you to think deeply about characters and their motivations. It is a slow burn and bounces back and forth in both time and setting and point of view.
The book centers on the death of eighteen-year-old Alison on the fictitious island of Saint X, while on a vacation with her upper-middle class white family from New York. Fingers are quickly pointed at Edwin & Gogo, two islanders who work at the resort, and were possibly the last people to see Alison alive. Alison’s sister Claire (later Emily, who uses a different name to distance herself from the sensationalism her sister’s death brought to the family) is young when this happens, and we see the events unfold from her perspective and how she deals with her grief.
The novel shifts forward in time to when Claire/Emily is an adult with a life and job in New York City. She ends up in a taxi driven by Gogo, one of the men accused of killing Alison, and Claire/Emily’s grief turns into an obsession.
Like I said, this book is a slow burn. Every paragraph is deliberate in painting a clear picture of the characters we meet. The descriptions of the people and places we encounter on Saint X are exquisite. When it all comes together at the end, it deos so marvelously. For me, this was a solid 4 star book. I’d say the pacing was a bit slow for my liking, but I found this book extremely well done & entertaining.