On one of those super-hot days last summer I found myself conjuring up Nick and Helena, the two young women from Liza Klaussmann's debut novel, Tigers in Red Weather. I was there with the two cousins. We were drinking gin in the backyard, wearing only our slips, talking about the new lives we were about to embark on. It was September, 1945; the war was over, and Helena was about to be married for a second time, Nick was about to be re-united with her husband, and I was...but then the heat that had put me there pulled me right back, and I knew that in their fictional world this moment of happiness was fleeting.
Tigers in Red Weather, written by Herman Melville's great great great granddaughter, is a family story that invites you in. The bulk of the novel takes place in the 1960s and is set at Tiger House, the magnificent old family estate on Martha's Vineyard where Nick and Helena spent their summers together as children. Though Tiger House is still the same, the island has changed. When Ed, Helena's son, and Daisy, Nick's daughter, discover the victim of a brutal murder, the idyllic moments of the past are forever erased. Telling her story from five different viewpoints, Klaussmann uses a single act of violence to get at the hidden lives of her characters. The themes that you will find in this insightful and suspenseful novel include how our secrets define us, loss of identity in marriage, distortion of character by outside forces, and the longing we all have for something better.