Why Join?

  • Add New Books

  • Write a Review

  • Backpack Reading Lists

  • Newsletter Updates

Join Now

Mystery set in Texas

3rd September 2016

The Last Days of Summer by Vanessa Ronan, mystery set in Texas.

mystery set in texas

There are some occasions in late summer, even in Britain, when the heat can gradually build up until it becomes oppressive. Finally the clouds thicken and the light changes and you know a storm is on the way. You’re aware that it will bring destruction in its wake – flooded homes perhaps or hapless golfers struck by lightning – but despite that you’re not sorry to hear the first rumble of thunder that tells you that the waiting is finally over.

You find that same sense of growing tension in The Last Days of Summer by Vanessa Ronan, as throughout the novel we wait for the explosion that is the inevitable consequence of events that happened years before. But the background of the narrative is not the well-tended fields and golf courses of little England but the vast plains of the humid prairie. Here the men wear cowboy hats and heeled boots, every farm has a rifle or two and, as in rural communities around the world, memories are long. That’s because people don’t move away – voluntarily at any rate. But what keeps them there?

Most of us these days live in towns and cities and we relish the freedom – even the anonymity – that city life brings with it. For us it is hard to conceive of a force which would tie us to a certain patch of land, especially if it meant putting ourselves or our families in danger. We’d have the house up for sale and be on the motorway to the next city before you could say Neighbourhood Watch. However, most of us are not living in the depths of rural America on fields worked by our families for generations. The answer to what keeps the folks in The Last Days of Summer down on the farm can be found in the last words of the book, “This is our home…… Where are we gonna go?”

This is a novel that poses some other tough questions, like how well we understand the people closest to us, and how we would react if a beloved family member committed a terrible crime. To some extent these questions have already been raised in a couple of other books set in the United States, We need to talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver, and more recently, A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold. She’s the mother of one of the young Columbine killers and, incidentally, still lives in the community where the massacre occurred.

In The Last Days of Summer we are confronted with an individual who has committed the most horrific of crimes, but is still capable of kindness, even of love, and readers are challenged to examine their own reactions to him. They also have to decide what to make of those committed to avenging these crimes, but who are themselves corrupted in the process. So there are plenty of hard questions, but a strength of the book is that it doesn’t try to come up with simple answers. The ball is in our court.

In its description of the causes and consequences of terrifying evil, and its examination of the impact of violent deeds on the people closest to the perpetrator, The Last Days of Summer could be a depressing read, but it’s not. The strength of characterization, the claustrophobic portrayal of life in a tight-knit rural community and the build-up of tension before the inevitable climax, keep you hanging in there. And at the end, after all the blood-letting there is a suggestion of redemption, providing some much-needed calm after the storm. Just don’t expect any answers.

Gwyneth for the TripFiction Team

You can follow Vanessa on Twitter and Facebook.

Come and join TripFiction on Social Media:

Twitter (@tripfiction), Facebook (TripFiction), Instagram (TripFiction) and Pinterest (TripFiction)… and now YouTube

For more books to transport you to TEXAS for a bit of literary wanderlust, just click here.


Subscribe to future blog posts

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *