Title: The Twisted Thread
Author: Charlotte Bacon
Release Date: June 14, 2011
Rating: 4 out of 5
Madeline Christopher is an intern teaching at the prestigious Armitage Academy, a boarding school. When seventeen-year-old Claire Harkness is found dead, the students and faculty are shocked, and the police are baffled. What’s even more confusing is the fact that it appears that Claire recently had a baby, but no one knew she was pregnant. Even worse, the baby is missing, and no one has any clue where he or she is, nor who the father might be. Madeline finds herself at the center of the investigation as the police tried to uncover the secrets behind Claire’s murder.
The Twisted Thread has many different layers – on the surface, it’s a mystery. A gripping, well-fashioned gothic, the plot will keep readers hooked from beginning to end. Every break in the case and secret that is revealed leads to new questions, each even more complicated than the last. Bacon provides twists and turns that keep the reader guessing, and even at the end, when the reader thinks they finally have the whole story figured out, Bacon throws in a new kink just to keep readers on their toes.
However, underneath the surface, The Twisted Thread is a serious social commentary. The students attending Armitage are the scions of some of the richest people in the country, and they have a very large sense of entitlement. On the other hand are the people from the town surrounding the school, Greenville, who don’t have anywhere near the same privileges or resources as those at the school. And straddling the two worlds is the police chief of Armitage-Greenville, Matt Corelli, who attended Armitage on a scholarship, but was forced to leave in the midst of a scandal. He is uniquely suited to understand the difficulties between the two communities, as well as the singular dispositions of the students at Armitage.
The secrets at these highly privileged schools are also tackled in The Twisted Thread. From hazing to traditional teenage bullying to secret societies, Bacon leaves no stone unturned as she takes the reader through these traditions and shows the harm that comes from them. These intense and thoughtful additions to the novel elevate it from an entertaining murder mystery to a book with many interesting comments on society, especially that of a wealthy and prestigious school.
I enjoyed The Twisted Thread from beginning to end. There is so much going on within its pages that it will keep readers hooked. I appreciated that Bacon chose to do more with this novel than just keep it as a traditional gothic murder mystery; as a result, it would make a good book club pick because there is a lot to discuss within its pages. I look forward to seeing what Charlotte Bacon does next, and in the meantime will be seeking out her previous novels.