Saturday, September 5, 2015
THE LAST SEPTEMBER by Nina De Gramont
Seldom has a mystery combined three elements so brilliantly - murder, marriage and mental illness. Related in flashback form The Last September is a beautifully written gripping story set in Boulder, Amherst and the stark fall beaches of Cape Cod. In its own way it is also a coming of age story, although Brett does come of age in a difficult, sometimes frightening way.
Brett has been in love with Charlie, a handsome, charismatic, unpredictable fellow, since their first meeting. She was 18-years-old at a college house party hosted by Eli, Charlie’s younger brother. It was a cold, snowy night and Charlie suggested they go skiing. With borrowed gear they took off and ended the evening in Brett’s dorm room. She was hopelessly in love, haunted her mailbox but did not hear from Charlie again until she had to call to tell him that Eli, now clearly unstable had jumped from a rooftop and was hospitalized.
Brett tried every way she knew to forget Charlie, even to becoming engaged to another. Yet eventually Brett and Charlie did marry and had a daughter, Sarah, now 15 months old. Throughout the years Eli has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals, and the day comes when he is coming to visit them. Brett objects, fearing for Sarah, but Charlie who has always been protective of his younger brother suggests she take Sarah to a friend’s house - he will call and let her know how Eli is doing.
The call never comes because Charlie is dead - his throat slashed but by whom? It seems Eli is the obvious answer but there are others who would like to be rid of Charlie Moss.
The Last September grabs you from the opening paragraph and doesn’t let go until the final page. You may read it in one sitting as I did because De Gramont has not only given us a terrific whodunit but an intense study of human emotions.
- Gail Cooke