TITLE: The Long, Long Afternoon
AUTHOR: Inga Vesper
PUBLISHED: February 2021
GENRE: Crime thriller/Mystery
MY RATING: 5/5
I received an eARC copy of this title from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. My thanks goes to NetGalley and the publisher Manilla Press for the opportunity to review this book.
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*Synopsis taken from Goodreads*
It’s the summer of 1959, and the well-trimmed lawns of Sunnylakes wilt under the California sun.
At some point during the long, long afternoon Joyce Haney, a seemingly happy housewife and mother, vanishes from her home, leaving behind only two terrified young children and a bloodstain on the kitchen floor.
With the stifling heat of Tangerine and the gripping pace of Little Deaths, The Long, Long Afternoon is at once a page-turning mystery and an intoxicating vision of the ways in which women everywhere are diminished, silenced and, ultimately, underestimated.
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A fantastic read, I have zero criticisms! But you came here to read a review didn’t you, so let me try and get my thoughts straight so that I can elaborate a little further.
This book perfectly presents 1950s suburbia and the claustrophobic lifestyle led by females during this time. Joyce is one of these females, she’s unhappy and unfulfilled but attempting to paint a picture of happiness in her ‘perfect home’ with her ‘perfect husband’. Of course, all is far from what it seems, and Joyce’s disappearance is the catalyst for one almighty fallout. Despite disappearing, Joyce pops up throughout the novel, and her narrative really helps to drive the story forward, and bring life to the person behind the name.
Alongside the plight of females runs the very real reality of racism. Far from sensationalist Vesper includes this angle through the characters of Ruby and her family, with arresting effect. It is worth bearing in mind that some racist terms are used in the text, but as I said it is not done in a sensationalist way. Ruby was by far my favourite character in this book, and her narrative alone would have ensured the five star rating. Her story is heart-breaking, the abuse she suffers is horrific, but also the sheer dismissal that she receives based purely on the colour of her skin is simply awful – I was saddened and angered in equal measure. She is the heroine of the story and rightly so, hers is a character that will stay with me for a long time.
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As I mentioned above this book is depicting life as it was in the 50s, and this explains the treatment faced by the female and black characters. However, there are moments where we as readers can be reminded that not everybody behaved in such awful ways, and not everybody shared the same horrendous thoughts. I really appreciated that Vesper chose to include this in The Long, Long afternoon. The portrayal came mainly through the relationship of Ruby and the investigating officer Detective Blanke. He sees beyond prejudice and instead respects Ruby and her invaluable contribution to his murder investigation. Their relationship, whilst unconventional is truly heart-warming and another real highlight within the book.
The novel takes off running, and this fast pace is maintained throughout, I flew through this book, finishing it in only one day because I could not put it down. It is dripping in mystery, with a resolve that I didn’t see coming – it was one of those open mouth moments when the big reveal took place!
Equally plot and character driven, The Long, Long Afternoon is absolutely superb and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. This will absolutely be one of my favourite reads this year without a doubt. If you like a well thought out mystery then this is definitely the book for you!
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Have you read The Long, Long Afternoon? What did you think about it? If you haven’t read it do you think that you will? As always I would love to hear your thoughts!
Thanks for reading, I hope that you enjoyed!