Both suspenseful and deeply moving, Carolina Moonset is an engrossing novel about family, memories both golden and terrible, and secrets too dangerous to stay hidden forever, from New York Times bestselling and Emmy Award-winning author, Matt Goldman.
Joey Green has returned to Beaufort, South Carolina, with its palmettos and shrimp boats, to look after his ailing father, who is succumbing to dementia, while his overstressed mother takes a break. Marshall Green’s short-term memory has all but evaporated, but, as if in compensation, his oldest memories are more vivid than ever. His mind keeps slipping backwards in time, retreating into long-ago yesterdays of growing up in Beaufort as a boy.
At first this seems like a blessing of sorts, with the past providing a refuge from a shrinking future, but Joey grows increasingly anxious as his father’s hallucinatory arguments with figures from his youth begin to hint at deadly secrets, scandals, and suspicions long buried and forgotten. Resurfacing from decades past are mysteries that still have the power to shatter lives—and change everything Joey thought he knew.
Especially when a new murder brings the police to his door…
What’s it about (in a nutshell):
Carolina Moonset by Matt Goldman is a rich and complex mystery that spans decades in a small southern coastal community.
Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):
I love the cover. It feels like southern coastal South Carolina with the waterways obscured by tall grasses and the large old home in the midst of it all. The light on in the upstairs window intrigues me. The blurb also intrigues me with talk of old family secrets. By chance, I am reading this book while I’m in the area it is set in, and I imagine that will even add to the story in unexpected ways.
Actual Reading Experience:
Carolina Moonset was everything I expected, told so beautifully and so atmospherically that I felt like I was there sitting in the Green’s kitchen.
The mystery is complex and encompasses so many layers of hate, racism, and wrongdoings that it fits the setting historically and socially to perfection. I could see lots of it coming, but I didn’t care that I wouldn’t be shocked or surprised. I was happy to be immersed in the tale of all that had transpired so many decades ago. And I felt utterly rewarded for my mindset.
The setting and how the author immerses you in that setting were sublime. I happened to be in the area when I read the book and can attest to the authenticity of the descriptions. I think the location lends itself to sitting for a spell and listening to family stories until late into the night. Or at least that’s the effect on me, and I have heard many family stories, especially my own.
The family themes and portrayal of dementia are heartwarming, heartbreaking, relatable, and authentic. I loved the way neighbors pulled together to lend a hand and how everyone treated Marshall Green (the main character’s father) with the utmost respect. There was so much love and care in that community, and it came through the page unmistakably.
The characters are so well-developed that I knew them like I knew my own family and neighbors. Joey Green is the main character and narrator. He tells the story in first-person narration giving the story that personal perspective that rings genuine. Joey is likable and upstanding, as is the rest of his family. I loved the romance that blooms between him and his parent’s neighbor’s daughter, who is of a similar age and also divorced
Reminds Me Of:
It reminds me of Mary Kay Andrews’ The Homewreckers because of the setting and the family history mixed with a mystery angle.
To Read or Not to Read:
Suppose you love family history, a large dose of southern ambiance, and a compelling mystery that spans generations. In that case, Carolina Moonset is just the cup of sweet tea you’ve been waiting for.