Review: The Halo Effect by Anne D. LeClaire 

Release date: April 1, 2017

Publisher: Lake Union 

Genre: Mystery/Suspense


In this tour de force, a father, shaken by tragedy, tries to avenge his daughter’s murder—and restore his family’s shattered life.

It was supposed to be a typical October evening for renowned portrait artist Will Light. Over dinner of lamb tagine, his wife, Sophie, would share news about chorus rehearsals for the upcoming holiday concert, and their teenage daughter, Lucy, would chatter about French club and field hockey. Only Lucy never came home. Her body was found, days later, in the woods.

The Eastern Seaboard town of Port Fortune used to be Will’s comfort. Now, there’s no safe harbor for him. Not even when Father Gervase asks Will to paint portraits of saints for the new cathedral. Using the townspeople as models, Will sees in each face only a mask of the darkness of evil. And he just might be painting his daughter’s killer.

As Will navigates his rage and heartbreak, Sophie tries to move on; Father Gervase becomes an unexpected ally; and Rain, Lucy’s best friend, shrouds herself in a near-silent fugue. Their paths collide in a series of inextricably linked, dark, dangerous moments that could lead to their undoing…or to their redemption.


I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this one but I assumed that it would be a standard mystery, especially as it focuses on the death of a teenaged girl named Lucy. We’ve all read plenty of books about a young woman being murdered, but this book was different than most, very special. It wasn’t a fast paced thriller, though you don’t find out who killed Lucy until the end, but rather a dark mystery that read like literary fiction. 

This is told from from three perspectives; Will, Lucy’s grieving father, Father Gervase and Rain, Lucy’s best friend. Will’s portions are told in the first person and Father Gervase and Rain’s are in the third, and while I think this would normally irritate me, here if added an intimate quality to Will’s sections. The bulk of the story is told starting seven months after Lucy’s death and he is deep in the throes of grief. He is enraged and can only focus on justice. He vows that once her killer is apprehended he will kill him, plain and simple. Before she died he was a mild mannered artist so to say this is a huge change of character for him is putting it lightly. His wife, Sophie has taken a different approach in coping with her grief and is determined to make a difference. She’s involved in spreading awareness about the senseless murders of children and has found a fairly healthy outlet for her pain and grief. They have lost each other in the process, and it’s really easy to understand how this could happen, it was utterly heartbreaking. 

There’s an elegance and a poetic quality to LeClaire’s writing style, it was hypnotic at times. Instead of focusing primarily on the mystery of who killed Lucy, it is a look into the way people handle grief. Will is so bitter and angry, Sophia channels her pain into something positive, Rain shuts down almost completely and begins to self harm, and Father Gervase deals with the ramifications on his congregation. This was an intensive look at a town reeling from a deep loss but it had such a luminous feel to it as well, it was really exquisite. 

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to Ashley at Lake Union for my review copy. 

6 thoughts on “Review: The Halo Effect by Anne D. LeClaire 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s