A mutli-POV courtroom thriller about a fire at a hyperbaric oxygen submarine? Okay…I’ll bite. Miracle Creek here I come.
Well, to be honest, I can’t remember what got me to bite and get this book, but it’s been sitting on my shelves for months (it was BOTM pick in April 2019), and I had no idea it was about a hyperbaric oxygen tank or anything like that. I think I knew it was about murder, but this book definitely took me places I didn’t suspect. Overall, I’ll give it 4 stars. Dragged in points, and I found the ending anticlimatic, but I enjoyed most of it.
In Miracle Creek (outside of DC), Pak runs a HBOT submarine–a submarine set-up in a barn where people (primarily kids with special needs) come to hook up to pure oxygen for an hour twice a day and reap the rewards for their health, etc. But one summer night, something goes wrong. There’s a fire. Two patients are killed, another is injured, and Pak and his daughter are injured as well. From the get-go, we know that Pak is hiding something. But it’s not Pak on trial: it’s Elizabeth, the mother of the formerly autistic (more on this later) boy who was killed in the submarine fire. The prosecutor says she did it on purpose. That she wanted to be free of Henry, that she hated her friend, Kit. They say she was hiding things. But in this novel, just about everyone is hiding something. And I’m not saying this is one of those Christie novels where everyone is a “little accountable” but throughout the novel, your guess at who did it is going to change. Almost everyone seems to have had the motive, or the opportunity, or access to the cigarettes that set the fire. But Elizabeth is on trial, they others are testifying, and life is getting even more complicated.
I love multi-POV books, and this one had it GALORE: We had Elizabeth, the mother on trial. We had Pak, the submarine owner plus his wife, Young, and his daughter, Mary. There was the patient Matt, also a doctor, and his wife Janine, who is also involved in the submarine business. There’s also Teresa, another “patient” and the mother of Rosa, a teen girl with cerebral palsy. Between those POVs, things are ever-changing in Miracle Creek. Who set the fire that killed Henry and Kit and injured the others? Who bought the cigarettes? Who called the insurance company and asked about arson? Who left the H mart note? And does it matter if Elizabeth is the one on trial, and if she wasn’t a perfect mother?
This was a super fascinating book—dark in a lot of ways, but also a very fascinating character development. Not sure how it’s been received in the autism community, but I thought in Teresa, at least, it presented a very nuanced view of being a parent to a special needs child: it’s a hard road, obviously. Like I said, I thought the ending (aka: the whodunit) was a bit anticlimactic, but I kind of liked that my guess changed at least once throughout. It’s also a “courtroom thriller” that goes back in time to that day, and the surrounding days, so it’s not just a billion pages of court transcripts, etc.
Overall, an interesting book! Not the fastest read, or the most heart-warming, but I was intrigued.
Miracle Creek is available wherever books are sold.