I downloaded this eBook not realizing that I’d already read another book and watched a movie based on the same real events that took place in 1900! What a fun coincidence!
The other fun coincidence is that my blogging friend Charlie over at Books and Bakes also read The Lamplighters as part of her summer reading challenge!
What’s the basis of the story? In 1900, three lightkeepers disappeared from the remote rock lighthouse on Eilean Mòr in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. You can read all about the actual events here. I read Coffin Road by Peter May a few years ago in which a character is writing a book about the disappearance. After that, I watched the Scottish movie, The Vanishing, an intense psychological thriller that offers a possible explanation.
Stonex moves the events to Cornish Maiden Rock, a sea tower built on rocks, off the coast of England’s Land’s End. The story begins in 1972 when the three keepers disappear. This is just a few years before this type of lighthouse was automated, putting an end to a job that required months of isolation. On the rock, investigators find three mysterious clues: the doors are locked from the inside, the clocks have stopped at 8:45 pm and the table in the lighthouse is set for two people, not three. The second storyline takes place in 1992 when author Dan Sharp approaches the keepers’ widows and one former girlfriend to gather information for his next book. The three women have moved on in different ways. Helen, the main keeper’s widow, has moved away from the sea, but returns to contemplate her marriage. She wants to tell her story, but the Assistant Keeper’s widow, Jenny, very dependent on her husband while he was alive, has not done well. And she has a secret. And Michelle, the Supernumerary Assistant Keeper’s girlfriend at the time, although now married with two daughters, can’t let go of the love she had for Vincent. The disappearance, though never satisfyingly resolved, was blamed on Vince because he’d been in prison for violent acts, but Michelle knows in her heart there was more to the story.
As it turns out, there are a lot of secrets!
Readers will learn about the days leading up to the disappearance and about the women’s relationships with the keepers and with each other. This is a slow-burn atmospheric psychological drama that looks at the effects of isolation and separation. I enjoyed it very much and recommend it to readers who like mysteries and studies of relationships.
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