Before She Was Helen

Caroline Cooney – now that’s a blast from the past! I feel like we ALL read her books when we were younger… she’s written over ninety. And you know that I love an old people romance (anything Nancy Meyers)… this one was interesting as it’s an old people murder mystery, set in a retirement community in South Carolina. Clemmie is checking in on her surly elderly neighbor and discovers a beautiful object. She sends it to her grand-niece and nephew which sets off a chain of events that threaten to unravel fifty years of secrets and Clemmie’s multiple identities. We learn of Clemmie’s dark and tragic past: terrible abuse, and her mysterious ties to the murder of a her brother’s high school basketball coach. And everything in between that led her to sleepy Sun City. So it’s pretty much two thrillers rolled into one, past and present. I personally found Clemmie’s past to be more gripping than her present. The “old people” part of the novel dragged on, whereas I was mesmerized by her past. I couldn’t put it down but did feel like parts of it were a bit of a slog.