An utterly propulsive and unpredictable psychological thriller from stunning new talent T. Marie Vandelly.
She didn't run from her dark past. She moved in.
For the lucky among us, life is what you make of it; but for Dixie Wheeler, the theme music for her story was chosen by another long ago, on the day her father butchered her mother and brothers and then slashed a knife across his own throat. Only one-year-old Dixie was spared, becoming infamously known as Baby Blue for the song left playing in the aftermath of the slaughter.
Twenty-five years later, Dixie is still desperate for a connection to the family she can’t remember. So when her childhood home goes up for sale, Dixie sets aside all reason and moves in. But as the ghosts of her family seemingly begin to take up residence in the house that was once theirs, Dixie starts to question her own sanity and wonders if the evil force menacing her is that of her father or a demon of her own making.
In order to make sense of her present, Dixie becomes determined to unravel the truth of her past and seeks out the detective who originally investigated the murders. But the more she learns, the more she opens up the uncomfortable possibility that the sins of her father may belong to another. As bodies begin to pile up around her, Dixie must find a way to expose the lunacy behind her family’s massacre to save her few loved ones that are still alive—and whatever scrap of sanity she has left.
Theme Music has a brilliantly chilling start that had me all geared up for an equally chilling tale. And it does deliver on that in a lot of ways. The setting and atmosphere don't lack on the creep factor scale. Even though the house has been updated and seems to be in a good neighborhood, the writing and tone of the story give it an almost gothic feel.
The author has quite the imagination, and it is shared with us in graphic detail. The problem with that is I too have quite the imagination and most times, I can imagine it worse than a book can describe it. So, I usually find that less is more when it comes to the gory details. The gore and graphic details run rampant in this one, and while I would agree that those details were probably necessary to give us a good visual of the scene, it becomes repetitive all too quickly between Dixie's imagination and crime scene photos. Speaking of, I'm still trying to figure out why the detective, who is now retired, would've still had any files or photos from the scene, or why anyone related to the family would be given access. Wouldn't those have been part of a case file on record?
Anyway, back to those repetitive details - am I the only one who started getting really worried about Dixie's gag reflex? Seriously, about halfway through, I was already tired of Dixie's need to throw up or actually going through with it. There are other reactions to fear and turmoil, and I wouldn't have minded seeing a few of those in place of the all too frequent vomiting - freeze, pass out, freak out, scream your bloody head off, just do something other than throw up.
Despite all that, we do get some solid suspense reading with Theme Music. Is Dixie crazy? Is she haunted? Was someone else involved? All of those questions are bound to go through a reader's mind at least once while reading this one, and the author does get tricky with some of the happenings. We also have the equivalent of a couple of decent red herrings to wonder about as things progress along with some pretty good twists, especially in the last quarter or so of the book. There is also a supernatural element, which I didn't mind and felt like it worked with the story.
In the end, this one had things I liked and other things that I didn't, landing me firmly in the middle. I do think it was way longer than it needed to be, and with a bit of trimming down on the repetitiveness, this could easily have been a more entertaining and even creepier thriller. As I mentioned earlier, the author does have a great imagination and based on many things in this debut novel, I will be interested to see what she does next.