City Under One Roof by Iris Yamashita [in Booklist]
Oscar-nominated screenwriter Iris Yamashita makes her fiction debut with a celluloid-ready thriller that opens with body parts – a hand and foot that wash up on Point Mettier shores. Inspired by remote Whittier, Alaska, former military outpost Point Mettier has 205 full-time residents who all live in a single building, The Davidson Condos.
Seventeen-year-old Amy Lin found the separated appendages. Detective Cara Kennedy arrives from Anchorage to ask a few more questions. Lonnie Mercer’s trying not to tell anyone anything about what’s buried in her pet moose’s stall. When an avalanche traps Cara in Mettier, she’s suddenly got time to find the rest of John Doe.
Despite plenty of clunky writing (“Ma went from zero to hero in an instant,” “literally and figuratively shrouded in fog”), Yamashita knows how to keep her pages turning with a crowd of close-up-ready characters, including a scooter-riding little girl haunting the halls, a cuckold with “awkward, Mayberry-like charm” ready for love, and a once-famous Japanese singer who pays the local children to attend her dead daughter’s birthday parties.
Yamashita’s plotting proves addictive; her final line promises more to come.