North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.
North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.
What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?
This book is told in alternating chapters between Morgan and Anna’s perspectives. I loved that when I had questions in Ann’s chapters, they were answered in Morgans.
Set 78 years apart, both women are dealing with circumstances beyond their control. Thankfully both women are very strong willed characters, and are destined to come out on top.
Morgan is in jail at the beginning, but the reason why doesn’t come out until later. I liked the way the author hinted at what happened, but then changed the subject. That alone kept me reading. Unfortunately the mural Morgan was hired to restore is in a disastrous state. The more she cleans, the more she wonders what was going on inside Anna’s head while she was painting. Why did it look like some of the painting was dripping blood?
Anna is a young up and coming artist who just won a contest. A huge opportunity for women back then. She is also a white woman in a small town who has a colored high school student working with her. Anna has seen how talented he is as an artist, so it’s a no brainer to her that he helps her. In the small town of Edenton, this is frowned upon. Anna is told she needs to separate herself from the boy. Thankfully she doesn’t listen, and lets the boy stay. She is warned that it will end badly, and it does.
What happens next is a roller coaster of a ride. Anna disappears along with the mural, so how does Morgan end up working on it? I had so many questions while reading this book, but I liked how the author left you wanting more. All my questions were answered in the end.
There was a twist at the end that I would have never seen coming. This book is everything you would want in a story. It was beautifully written. This author felt so familiar to me, but this was the first book I have read by her.
Thank you St. Martin’s Press for an ARC of the book, and thank you NetGalley for a digital ARC copy.
Grab you own copy January 14, 2020!
Book Rating: 4/5
For the grand finale this would pair nicely with The Collection Cabernet Sauvignon.