Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin
Saint X is a debut novel that explores the mystery of the death of an 18-year-old woman, Alison, who was on holiday with her parents and seven-year-old sister Claire on the Caribbean Island resort of Saint X. Alison disappears on the last night of the vacation, and her body is found several days later on a remote spot. Two employees at the resort are suspected of murdering her, but the evidence isn’t enough, and the timeline is against them having killed her, so they are released. The story becomes a lurid tabloid story, a mystery that remains unsolved.
Many years later, Claire is living and working in New York City when she steps into a taxi, and realises the driver is one of the men who has last seen with her sister – Clive Richardson. Meeting Clive prompts Claire to begin an obsessive hunt for the truth. Of what happened the night of Alison’s death, but also who her sister really was. Through internet searches, documents, taped journal recordings her sister kept, and finally through starting a friendship with Clive (under false pretences) a picture begins to emerge of her beautiful, intelligent, stroppy, risk-taking sister.
This is such an intriguing crime novel. It feels like a true-crime novel in the way it’s written, although it is very much a coming of age novel as well. What emerges as how much destruction followed Alison’s death. The damage inflicted on her parents, and on Claire, in particular, is immense. But also what is immense, is the suffering that Clive Richardson endured – her death altered his life in a way that destroyed his dreams and stopped him from living fully.
Saint X is not your standard crime thriller. It’s atmospheric and suspenseful but digs digger into a tragedy and the resulting outcomes for all the people involved. Fascinating stuff.