Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
”Good things and bad—every friendship and romance formed, every accident, every illness—resulted from the conspiracy of hundreds of little things, in and of themselves inconsequential.”
Wow. An intricately put together story of a deadly event, those who may (or may not) be responsible and the enduring relationships people form. Written from a own voices perspective (Korean immigrant to America as a child) and with an in-depth understanding of the law; Miracle Creek is at once poignant, beautiful, horrifying and deadly. Let’s get into some of the details.
There is a large cast of characters in Angie Kim’s story. Each of them are distinct and easy to remember, which I appreciated. From the parents of the children to the children themselves and the other adults involved in the submarine therapy. Each of them has a small piece of the overall story and what happened on the fateful day when an explosion injured and killed people. Therefore, in their own way, each character is an unreliable narrator. It's not until every single perspective has been considered, heard from and pieced into the overall puzzle that the ending reveals the truth of the situation.
Disabled Children and their Parents
There is an excellent portrayal here of the exhaustion that happens to parents of kids whom are disabled, suffer from chronic illnesses, etc. Two mother's in particular are found to say things like "somedays I think my child would be better off dead" and similar phrases. This seems innocent enough right? Parenting is hard work and certainly anyone who has known someone caring for a child with special needs can understand the intent of the statement. Well that is until someone murders one of those children... Now that innocent statement becomes a whole new piece of 'evidence'. I really liked the way Kim played this out and showed reality. We all say things that could be construed incorrectly but aren't actually meant to be taken literally. It’s not until an extreme context is applied that those innocent words take on a more literal meaning.
Everyone's a Suspect
I don't read a lot of murder mysteries generally (maybe a couple a year?). I always like to read bestsellers and inevitably thrillers or murder mysteries hit the top of the charts so I read them. That, plus the disabled representation and discussion of unconventional medical treatments, drew me to pick-up Miracle Creek. Because I'm not a big murder mystery fan I'm not sure how common it is to have every single person (more or less) be a suspect in an incident. That is the case here. Each of our characters had a number of motives, opportunities, etc. to sabotage the compression chamber (submarine). And so because of this there is a lot of awful thoughts and theories to slog through. It makes the characters seem fairly 'icky' (if you will) at times. However, reflecting on the characters individually, I think each of them is actually very realistic. And let's face it, at our worst we all have undesirable traits; and the time for those undesirable traits to surface will always be when someone is digging for information, like during a murder investigation.
If you're a fan of John Grisham (or the like) then the courtroom talk here will seem tame. Kim is a trial lawyer herself, yet I didn't find the court discussions or descriptions difficult to follow. That may be because we don't have an omniscient narrator here; but instead see the courtroom through the eyes of different participants at their understanding of educational level. Given that a lot of the story is told in the courtroom as flashbacks (which I usually dislike) there is still a good flow to the novel. I could still picture and feel the emotions as events were told to the court. I attribute this to excellent writing by Kim. This is especially impressive as this is Kim’s debut novel! I’m expecting her next to be that little bit better to get five stars! ;)
As with most books there is a lull in Miracle Creek. It's relatively short (not even 50 pages probably) and it's right smack dab in the middle of the novel. When you hit this point I recommend just pushing forward a little harder to get to the last half of the story as it is well, well worth the ending.
I wouldn’t say this book is amazing or at the top of its (very crowded) genre. However it is certainly worth reading if you like some court drama, murder mysteries or puzzling a situation out based on comments from different points of view. KIL has written Miracle Creek so well that I believe everyone can find something to like about it. A well written book, with solid characters and an organized plot, will always transcend genre boundaries.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
View all my reviews