How to Fall introduces Jess Tennant, amateur teenage detective. Jess and her mother Molly are staying in Port Sentinel, Molly’s childhood home, following the apparent suicide of Freya, the cousin Jane never met but to whom she is identical. Molly’s marriage estranged her from her family but now that it is over she is keen to renew her acquaintance with her sister, nephews, nieces and old friends. Jess, on the other hand, is equally keen to establish how her cousin really died.
As Jess feels her way physically and socially around the village she provokes interest, hostility and anxiety. Will, the love interest, is introduced early but their relationship false-starts untilthe book’s last chapters, providing insights into Will’s family history and the unforgiving nature of life in a small community. Natasha and her credibly blustering cronies fail to overwhelm Jess, but their threatening behaviour is painstakingly observed and described.
Casey understands the rhythms and intricacies of teenage yearsandbreathes them into existenceon the page, with their attendant damage and intensity. This is as much a book about the mechanisms of familylife and the obsessive nature of teenage concerns as it is a murder mystery. The reader is absorbed by the search for clues, the unravelling of lives and theclever pacing of events. The denouement is a surprise – another authorial success – and although there is a sense of events being brought to a close there is never the feeling that loose ends have been tied at the expense of credibility.