At the beginning of Dark August, 20-year-old Augusta “Gus” Monet learns that her great-grandmother Rose has died. The death of her only blood relative galvanizes Gus to take charge of her meandering life. She ditches her petty criminal boyfriend Lars and heads back to the small Ontario town where she spent part of her childhood. Gus’s parents were police officers.
Her father died when she was very small. Her mother, Shannon, a detective, was killed in a car crash when Gus was eight, and Gus ended up living with Rose for two years until she was sent to boarding school. Twelve years after her mother’s death, Gus learns that she is the beneficiary of Rose’s estate, which includes the house and everything in it, and Levi, her old mixed breed dog, whom she last saw when he was a puppy.
In the basement of Rose’s house, Gus discovers a trunk filled with her childhood treasures. Also stashed in the trunk are files pertaining to the case her mother was working on at the time of her death: photographs and documents that for Shannon became an obsession. Shannon died under a cloud of ignominy. She had been relieved of her duties, some of her colleagues were convinced that the case had unhinged her, and there’s a feeling that the crash that killed her might have been a suicide. Gus isn’t convinced, and when a body connected to the case turns up, Gus spurred on by innate curiosity and a desire to vindicate her mother’s actions and restore her reputation, embarks on an investigation of her own.
Her inquiry leads her along shady paths and down many dark country roads, but at the center of everything is a local businessman/politician named Kep Halladay, whose disappearance on the same day that Shannon died remains a mystery.
The tale that Katie Tallo spins in her debut novel is complex, tightly plotted, and crammed with intrigue and danger. Gus Monet is an extremely attractive protagonist. A loose cannon acting on instinct, cocky and with little regard for her own safety, she remains tenacious in her pursuit of the truth, even in the face of threats and betrayal.
The novel drips atmosphere. Tallo’s prose is polished and elegant and shimmers with imaginative detail. The story is fast-paced and unrelentingly entertaining, but also thought-provoking: it addresses an array of complex moral issues regarding family, secrecy, wealth, social responsibility and greed. Dark August, which satisfies on multiple levels, announces Katie Tallo as an author worth watching.
About the author: Katie Tallo has been an award-winning screenwriter and director for more than two decades. In 2012, Katie was inspired to begin writing novels. Dark August is her debut novel. Katie has a daughter and lives with her husband in Ottawa, Ontario.
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