As a Southwest fiction fan I was delighted with Sycamore, a suspenseful, hot-off-the-press novel set in Arizona's high desert. Author Bryn Chancellor, who knows the landscape well, has created a setting so evocative that readers can feel the intense summer heat and smell the approaching monsoon.
Jess Winters was just 17 years old when she went missing from the tiny college town of Sycamore, Arizona. A recent transplant from Phoenix, Jess hadn't grown up in town and didn't have much by way of local family ties. Yet, the profound impact of her disappearance on the community still resonates 18 years later when human bones turn up in a dry river bed near the college.
Secrets, illicit love, betrayals, and regrets are recalled and rehashed as the townspeople re-examine their decades-old, collective tragedy. Each character has a point of view and a story to tell, and each story builds on the one before it as the startling narrative of Jess's life unspools, one riveting recollection after another. This is first-rate storytelling -- Chancellor ably weaves together an electrifying atmosphere with an absorbing and intricate plot, and the result will keep you turning pages compulsively.