A spellbinding mystery about the price we pay for keeping secrets for fans of literary whodunits like Marisha Pessl’s Night Film, Carol Goodman’s mysteries, and David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars. The Garden of Dead Dreams explores whether it’s possible to remake our lives when no one can erase the past.
Vincent Buchanan was one of America’s most cherished authors. His 1943 novel The Western Defense is not only considered a work of literary genius; it may have helped the United States triumph against Japan in the Second World War.
Nearly seventy years after its release, twenty-eight-year-old Etta Lawrence is a student at the prestigious creative writing academy the late Buchanan founded in a majestic lodge tucked beneath Oregon’s fog-laced Douglas firs and Western red cedars. She’s intent on rewriting her life by winning the coveted Buchanan Prize, a ticket to literary stardom.
Then a handsome visiting poet arrives at the academy, and Etta’s bubbly roommate Olivia latches onto him and begins acting distant, disturbed, and hysterical. Etta peeks through her roommate’s belongings and stumbles onto a revelation about Buchanan’s personal life that could change the way people think about the famous author.
Etta’s convinced the discovery may be connected to the poet’s arrival and Olivia’s troubling behavior. She enlists two of her smart, quirky classmates to help her investigate. They find clues in the scenes of one of Buchanan’s short stories, the academy’s dusty administration files, and a dilapidated pioneer cemetery on the school grounds.
But as Etta twists through the murky forest of Buchanan’s past, she has more to lose than just her chances of starting over. Someone at the isolated academy is deadly serious about keeping Buchanan’s personal history private.