Clara Marsh is an undertaker who doesnt believe in God. She spends her solitary life among the dead, preparing their last baths and bidding them farewell with a bouquet from her own garden. Her carefully structured life shifts when she discovers a neglected little girl, Trecie, playing in the funeral parlor, desperate for a friend.
It changes even more when Detective Mike Sullivan starts questioning her again about a body she prepared three years ago, an unidentified girl found murdered in a nearby strip of woods. Unclaimed by family, the community christened her Precious Doe. When Clara and Mike learn Trecie may be involved with the same people who killed Precious Doe, Clara must choose between the stead-fast existence of loneliness and the perils of binding ones life to another.
I plunge my thumb between the folds of the incision, then hook my forefinger deep into her neck. Unlike most of the bloodlines, which offer perfunctory resistance, the carotid artery doesnt surrender itself willingly. Tethered between the heart and head, the sinewy tube is often weighted with years of plaque, thickening its resolve to stay. More so now that rigor mortis has settled deep within the old woman.
Each time I tug on that vessel, I think of my mother. I imagine other daughters are reminded of their dead parents whenever they hear the refrain from an old song, or feel the heft of a treasured bedtime story resting on their own childs nightstand. My trigger is the transformation of a battered corpse back to someone familiar. I was too young when she died to remember her scent, and I have no memory of her voice. But her wake - like the accident - plays in my head like a movie reel, some frames taut and crisp, others brittle, fluttery things. Though ...
Tethered is the first book in recent memory that I absolutely could
not read fast enough to see how it comes out .... I still can't say whether
Tethered should be categorized as a mystery or a literary novel but what I
do know is that with her stupendous prose and intricate characterizations
MacKinnon has penned a winner.
(Reviewed by Donna Chavez).
Full Review (1122 words).
Clara has such a detached attitude toward the more clinical aspects of her job as undertaker removing organs, sewing the mouth shut, applying makeup that her description of these tasks seems no different than a fishmonger discussing the gutting and filleting of salmon. And MacKinnon includes enough subtle hints as to the danger and toxicity of the chemicals used in cadaver preparation that one might pause before considering disposition of one's or a loved one's -- earthly remains. Additionally, there is the casket to think about and the fact that there may be more bodies to bury in Clara's community cemetery than that ...
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