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What Strange Creatures    by Emily Arsenault order for
What Strange Creatures
by Emily Arsenault
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2014 (2014)
Softcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Theresa Battle is a thirty something woman whose life has stagnated around an unfinished PhD dissertation and a number of failed relationships, including a divorce. She's living with a household full of animals and holds down a dead-end copywriting job to make ends meet.

Jeff Battle, Theresa's older brother, isn't much better. Aimless and prone to lose any jobs he might land, Jeff's life is also going nowhere until he meets a young waitress named Kim. Perhaps this relationship will be the one to turn his dreary existence around and get him moving in the right direction.

Since Theresa thinks the world of her older brother, she hopes Jeff's new love will mark a turning point in his life. Actually it does, but not in the manner Theresa expected. When Kim is found murdered, Jeff becomes the main suspect and he's not doing much to clear his name.

Convinced her sibling could never do such a horrendous thing, Theresa decides to learn more about Kim and perhaps find something that would suggest someone, other than Jeff, was responsible for the girl's death.

What she is about to stumble into is a situation involving nasty secrets about politics, romance and scandal that will place Theresa's own life at risk and test to the breaking point the strength of family bonds and loyalty.

Emily Arsenault makes sure the reader learns as much about the woman who is the subject of her protagonist's dissertation as he does about Theresa. As a counterpoint to the academic's own personality, this is an interesting idea that adds a narrative richness to the story.

As likeable as she is, Theresa Battle can also be a frustrating character. When you figure out who the killer is before she does, you'll probably want to give poor Theresa a good wake up dummy throttling because there are times that is precisely what she needs.

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