Have you ever gone on a long trip and passed exit after exit that seemed to lead to towns long past their glory days? More often than not, such an exit is marked by a dumpy little motel featuring dilapidated and peeling signs. The “vacancy” sign is always on and you wonder who really stays at that place. In her novel, Little Pretty Things, Lori Rader-Day tells the story of one such motel nested in a small town going nowhere fast. Juliet Townsend enjoyed her life in the small town when she was in high school. She never won on the track, but she always had her best friend Maddy Bell close by. But as luck would have it, 10 years later, Juliet is still stuck there, having never moved away or lived any of her dreams after her dad died. Maddy did move away along with many of their other classmates. Their lives moved on…
Cleaning at the Mid-Night Inn pays the bills, barely. No one dreams of working at a one star motel. It is a job to nowhere. Day after day, the work stays the same with a slow but steady stream of people too cheap to stay somewhere else or those stuck in desperate circumstances. But out the blue, in the middle of a shift, Juliet’s life turns on its head. When the door opens, she is stunned to see her best friend from high school – beautiful, wealthy Maddy Bell – walk in looking for a room for the night. After spending some time catching up, Maddy heads to her room. Apparently, she isn’t there for the long haul because her car is seen leaving shortly after she checks into the room. So, everyone is shocked when the morning light turns up a body…Maddy’s body.
When Juliet discovers that her friend is dead, she can’t let it go. Bits and pieces of their past trouble her along with odd things she’s seen around the Inn. Their 10 year class reunion is about to happen and somehow the police findings aren’t adding up for Juliet. When she decides to start doing her own digging, what she finds reveals that things are rarely as they seem and being the star isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.
I’ve always enjoyed a good mystery and Little Pretty Things did not disappoint. By linking the past and the present, there were plenty of details that made this story come alive. While it was a bit slow moving, I really felt like it allowed me time to solve the crime on my own. With every new character, I felt myself analyzing whether they could have been the one. The underlying theme of human trafficking adds a thread of reality to this story that many will find enlightening. How can this happen before our eyes with no one seeing it? In that sense, this piece was fiction with a purpose–a challenge to open our eyes and see beyond the obvious.
Sarah McCubbin is a homeschooling and foster mom in NE Ohio where she resides with her husband and 7 children. In addition to reading great books, she enjoys gardening, traveling and blogging at Living Unboxed.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Seventh Street Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.