The Year Mrs. Cooper Got Out More by Meredith Marple
The year is 2014, and an underlying current of malaise is stirring behind the closed doors of residents in the small and quaint Maine town of Great Wharf. To name a few examples, Mallory Cooper is afraid to go outdoors, Dr. Jim Beall has intimacy issues, Jean Trent is still trying to get over the sudden death of her husband, and a couple are still searching for their daughter who has been missing nearly fourteen years. While the above-mentioned cast and a flurry of other town folk dealing with their problems, darker situations arise when a murder and a series of mysterious accidents occur.
Meredith Marple’s debut novel is reminiscent of Peyton Place minus the anticipated sordid secrets. Indeed, Marple’s tightly knit cast is shrouded in secrecy of one form or other. Yet her well-defined characters, for the most part, are made up of decent individuals at different stages in their lives—all holding on to unresolved issues. Key to Marple’s third person narrative is the incorporation of a supportive and foiled cast to help shape fifty-five-year-old Mallory Cooper, her featured character. Also of interest is the way Marple interweaves the cast into her plot. While constantly alternating character scenes, Marple periodically sprinkles in what she refers to as “epistolary” excerpts from an “unpublished manuscript” titled Runaway Legacy. The letters, which focus on the parents of their missing daughter, initially appear to be out of plot context until the disclosure of a surly yet flirtatious character. Slowing tying in the complexity of her cast and their varied situations, Marple convolutes her story even more while building to its apex by throwing in an out-of-the-blue murder and a handful of bizarre accidents. Kudos to Marple for creating a fascinating and engaging read!
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