Back To You, by Chris Scully
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: June 12, 2017
Journalist Alex Buchanan has come home to the remote British Columbia town he grew up in, but only because his estranged father is dying. For Alex, the homecoming holds a mix of memories, mostly bad. The only bright spot is reconnecting with Benji Morning, the childhood friend he never truly forgot. As boys, the strength of their bond had frightened Alex. But now that he’s confident in his bisexuality, he’s drawn back to quiet, soft-spoken Ben.Ben isn’t the same boy Alex left behind, though. His life has been overshadowed by the disappearance of his sister two decades earlier, and now a new break in the case threatens to undo the peace he’s worked so hard to attain.
As Alex struggles to repair the relationship with his father before it’s too late, he finds himself caught up in a twenty-year-old mystery, a story he never expected, and a shocking truth that could affect his and Ben’s future together.
Content warnings for mention of attempted suicide/self harm
Compelling and atmospheric, Back To You is the kind of mystery that unfolds slowly but still manages to capture you in and draw you along as it uncovers a decades old disappearance that still haunts the inhabitants of small town in British Columbia, Canada.
After 20 years away, Alex Buchanan is reluctantly returning to his hometown to assist his sister Janet in their father’s dying days. Estranged from his dad and increasingly unsatisfied with the kind of writing he’s been doing at the magazine he works for, Alex is convinced by his editor that this might be a good opportunity to chronicle a father/son reunion. But Alex has more than work and his father’s imminent death on his mind. His thoughts revolve around is former best friend, Benji and what he might be up to these days.
In hindsight, I suppose I could have Googled him, or found him on Facebook like any other long-lost friend, but I was already in motion, driving the extra hour east purely by instinct, as if Benji were my true north and I the needle on the compass.
The relationship between Alex and Ben is deliberately understated in this book, but I feel that’s how it should be. In reality, this is more about coming to terms with the past, whether it be a parent-child relationship that soured over time, or the impact a tragic event can have on people on how they are forced to deal with the fallout.
Back To You not only takes a look at what it takes for two grown men to forgive past transgressions, but how to move forward from a event so dire it impacted two families forever, both of them haunted in different ways about the disappearance of a 17 year old girl and what it might mean for all of them if the mystery is solved.
I loved the somewhat dream-like atmosphere of this book and appreciated the moody weather-driven setting, if only because I have driven through many of the places mentioned. The Highway of Tears is all too real, as are the many unsolved murders and disappearances of too many women that occured over that particular stretch of road for more than 40 years.
All in all, I thought this was an excellent story by a new-to-me author. I can assure you, this won’t be my last book by Chris Scully and I hope to pick up more of her books in the near future.
Chris Scully lives in Toronto, Canada. She grew up spinning romantic stories in her head and always dreamed of one day being a writer even though life had other plans.
Her characters have accompanied her through career turns as a librarian and an IT professional, until finally, to escape the tedium of a corporate day job, she took a chance and began putting her daydreams down on paper.Tired of the same old boy-meets-girl stories, she found a home in M/M romance and strives to give her characters the happy endings they deserve. She divides her time between a mundane 9-5 cubicle job and a much more interesting fantasy life. When she’s not working or writing (which isn’t often these days) she loves puttering in the garden and traveling. She is an avid reader and tries to bring pieces of other genres and styles to her stories. While her head is crammed full of all the things she’d like to try writing, her focus is always on the characters first. She describes her characters as authentic, ordinary people—the kind of guy you might meet on the street, or the one who might be your best friend.
You can purchase Back To You from:
Barnes & Noble
Or add it to Goodreads
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.