Everything is somehow related even when it seems it shouldn't be, as Hannah Morrissey (Hello, Transcriber) skillfully depicts in The Widowmaker, her intriguing second novel set in the gritty, uncompromising town of Black Harbor, Wisc. Working with a decidedly noir template, Morrissey sculpts a fascinating plot that takes circuitous routes to reach an unexpected, but believable, finale. Goth photographer Morgan Mori reluctantly returns to her hometown of Black Harbor. Her search for work leads her to spend a day and part of the night photographing the wealthy Reynolds family, who annually chronicle their lavish holiday gathering. The Reynolds' wealth contrasts sharply with the general atmosphere of the economically depressed town where empty storefronts and drug dealers are the norm. The family has also endured 20 years of speculation over the disappearance of business mogul Clive Reynolds in his Porsche 930 Turbo, also known as "the Widowmaker." This gossip fodder reaches a fever pitch when Clive's Porsche is found submerged in a lake. The Widowmaker takes another turn as newly promoted detective Ryan Hudson deals with grief and guilt when his former partner is murdered during a convenience store robbery.
Morrissey keeps the plot tight as she moves it in different directions while simultaneously delving into the characters' motives and backstories, including the abusive backgrounds of both Morgan and Ryan--which have shaped their personalities and which they shield from others--and their suspicious natures. Morgan's camera lens allows her to distance herself while Ryan filters his remoteness through police work. --Oline H. Cogdill, freelance reviewer