Author(s): Amy MacKinnon


Daisies for innocence; Irises for hope; Asphodel for eternal sorrow. Clara Marsh is an undertaker. She spends her solitary life among the dead and bids them farewell with a bouquet from her own garden. But Clara's carefully structured life shifts when she discovers a neglected little girl, Trecie, playing in the funeral parlour, desperate for a friend. It changes even more when Detective Mike Sullivan starts questioning her again about a body she prepared three years ago, an unidentified girl found murdered in a nearby strip of woods. Unclaimed by family, the community christened her Precious Doe. When Clara and Mike learn Trecie may be involved with the same people who killed Precious Doe, Clara must choose between her solitary but steadfast existence and the perils of binding one's life to another. Clara's search for the girl pulls her into a spiralling series of events that threaten to endanger the few people Clara has grown to love - and finally brings her own tragic and long-buried past to the surface.


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Derek writes: This is a deliciously dark book that will keep you turning the pages long after bedtime. In this first novel from Amy MacKinnon, she has created an unlikely heroine in Clara Marsh, a shy young woman with a damaged past who spends her days amongst the dead. As an undertaker, she works in the basement beneath the funeral home and prepares the dead for burial with respect and reverence. She plays Mozart for them and always places a bouquet of flowers from her own garden into the casket. It might be Morning Glories for affection on departure, or Chrysanthemums for cheerfulness or Burning Bush for wisdom. Each time Clara completes the embalming, she carefully considers the life of the deceased before choosing the flowers for the casket. Her carefully crafted existence is jolted from its inertia one afternoon when she finds Trecie, a neglected girl of no more than eight, playing in the mourning room and looking to make Clara her friend. As Clara resists this, her life is further complicated by the arrival of Detective Mike Sullivan who is reopening the investigation of a young girl who died three years earlier. Clara prepared the body for burial but didn't reveal all she found to Mike, and even though the girl, Precious Doe, was never claimed by her family, Clara still finds herself holding back from Mike. So begins an excellent mystery with as Clara realises that Trecie may be involved with the same people that killed Precious Doe. The characters are beautifully drawn, Clara is complicated and retiring, but behind her exterior she hides a wealth of pain and hurt and secrets. The writing is haunting and is darkly evocative of a New England autumn with frosty days and chilling nights overlaying Clara's search for understanding.

Amy MacKinnon, a former congressional aide, is a freelance writer whose commentaries have appeared in the SEATTLE TIMES, BOSTON GLOBE, BOSTON HERALD, PATRIOT LEDGER, and on National Public Radio and This American Life. She lives in Marshfield, Massachusetts with her husband and their three young children.

General Fields

  • : 9780752883984
  • : Orion Publishing Co
  • : Orion (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
  • : 0.236
  • : September 2009
  • : 198mm X 129mm X 22mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Amy MacKinnon
  • : Paperback
  • : 1
  • : 813.6
  • : 352
  • : Crime & mystery