As we emerge from long weeks of home confinement and the weather improves, how uplifting to wander our beloved East Side streets again. As you do, let me suggest a way to make these jaunts even more enjoyable: Pick up Little Voices, the debut thriller novel written by East Side author Vanessa Lillie. Fast-paced and well-written, much of the action takes place right here in Providence on streets you’ll recognize, and involves characters that are at least suggestive of felons we all know.
In the opening scene, Devon Barges, a forensic attorney in the midst of difficult pregnancy, is rushed down Blackstone Boulevard to Women and Infants for an emergency C-section. At about the same time, the body of one of her best friends has been found in Swan Point Cemetery. And, as she is soon to find out, the chief suspect in the crime is a man who had been a close friend of hers in college. Except the more she tries to help, the guiltier he looks.
Soon, we find ourselves engrossed in dual stories of the new mom struggling with postpartum while trying to find time to use her legal and investigative skills to solve what proves to be a complex, multi-layered case that takes her into the inner workings of local politics, the morality of investigative journalism, and the ultimately complicated realities of the fishing industry in nearby New Bedford.
Lillie’s attention to and understanding of the details in all three areas is impressive. “My husband and I came here about nine years ago and in many ways I think of my book as a dark and twisted love letter to my adopted state,” she says. “I was nervous though, because I know if I didn’t get the details right, I’d hear about it.”
Little Voices is a page-turner as we join Barges following increasingly contradictory leads – some false, some not – of the crime. Then, for good measure, she throws in a surprise twist at the end you’ll probably never see coming.
Happily, we can report that Lillie’s second book, For the Best, will be released in September and takes place on our home turf as well. Lucky us.