Whistle in the Dark starts with a mystery - the disappearance of Lana Maddox. She is in hospital, and mom Jen Maddox is trying - "oh so trying", if you ask teenaged Lana.
The two had been on a creative retreat together, Lana went missing for a few days, and now Jen just wants to know what happened. Only it's not so simple - Lana can't remember. Is she unwilling or unable to say?
It's difficult to tell, even when sister Meg turns up, and tries to help/make this about her instead of about Lana. Lana sinks deeper into depression, and Jen feels more and more helpless. What about Hugh, their father? He helps around the house and buys ice cream. What else can he do?
Emma Healey writes well. Her grasp of the family tensions here and accurate dialogue are astounding. The brilliance is that she takes all the suppressed emotions - the rage, the guilt, the judgment, the selfishness - and compresses them into little moments and conversations that ring sadly true.
Which makes it complicated and difficult to read. It's not pleasant living with depression and mental illness. And when it's truthfully relatable, it's not easy or fun to read about. But that's not the book's fault, I suppose. And if you're likely to be upset by that kind of story, stay away.
You may also enjoy Elizabeth is Missing by the same author, or what about Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter?