Review: Waiting for the Night Song

Waiting for the Night Song by Julie Carrick Dalton
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Cadie Kessler is an entomologist working for the Forestry Department in the state of New Hampshire. She leads a fairly lonely life, focused on her research into how an invasive beetle species' damage to trees makes the forest more susceptible to wildfires. The trees start to die and their dead wood becomes kindling. As she struggles to justify her collection of data from a federal location she shouldn't be using, she receives a message from her childhood friend, Daniela Garcia, telling her she needs to come home because a body has been found. And just like that, the darkest secret of Cadie's life, rears its ugly head for the first time since childhood. A novel that is both a murder mystery and set in my own state of New Hampshire was sure to be a lure for me.

Waiting for the Night Song embodies so many things that I believe in, from the importance of science to the potentially devastating and complex environmental damage of climate change to the importance of having an immigration policy for Dreamers and their families who have lived here for decades. And so perhaps it's odd that I rate the novel at only 3.5 Stars. While I was interested in some of the science-y basis of the novel and Cadie's passion for her work, I found the lack of nuance in the story problematic. Sometimes the climate and immigration issues felt so heavy-handed. I'm not sure that people with differing views would even keep reading and perhaps, slowly, have the change of heart that one hopes literature can bring about. The potentially exploitative situation the Garcias are in is one that should lead the reader to feel the precariousness of any family in this situation. Had their situation been developed a bit more subtly, I think the subplot would have been more effective. Other than that grievance, the murder mystery itself played out nicely, with the reader slowly beginning to grasp what Cadie fails to see, as she still leaves with her child's eye view of fateful events. I look forward to reading more of Carrick Dalton's work in the future.

I also had the occasion to listen to the audiobook, beautifully narrated by Barrie Kreinik.

I received an advance review copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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