By: Iris Yamashita
Publication Date: January 2023
Reviewed by Diane Lunsford
Review Date: January 11, 2023
Iris Yamashita delivers delicious mystery and intrigue in her debut thriller, City Under One Roof.
The discovery of a severed hand and foot that has washed up on the shore of the small town of Point Mettier, Alaska, draws detective Cara Kennedy to town to investigate further. She is from Anchorage and perhaps delving into this mystery further isn’t her only motivation in traveling to Point Mettier. The only access in and out of town is via a tunnel. Unfortunately, every time an epic storm slams Point Mettier, the first thing to close is the tunnel with no guarantees as to when it will reopen in the aftermath of such a storm. Imagine Cara’s frustration when she realizes she is on the wrong side of one of these storms and predictably so, the tunnel in and out of town is closed.
The townspeople of Point Mettier are a unique bunch. The 205 residents live within the confines of a high rise called the ‘Dave-Co’. They have quite the self-contained community, fully equipped with two police officers, Chief Sipley and Officer Joe Barkowski. Amy and her mom run the Chinese restaurant and the culinary cuisine served up isn’t quite up to par with some of those iconic restaurants in San Francisco. Lonnie is a lone wolf and keeps to herself. She maintains constant contact with the voices in her head and adores caring for her pet moose. The Dave-Co has a post office, a church, an infirmary, and a general store that also acts as a gift shop that offers up all the touristy memorabilia one could possibly want if they ever happen upon this desolate and interesting town nestled in the bowels of the Alaskan frontier.
Once Cara accepts the fact that the tunnel is closed and she is there indefinitely, she settles into doing what she does best: investigate. What she couldn’t know is that the mystery of what really happened is much deeper than a hand and foot washing up on shore. As time unfolds, Cara has some explaining to do when it comes to spilling the beans toward what really motivated her to go to Point Mettier in the first place.
Iris Yamashita wastes no time in ramping up the excitement in her debut thriller. She devotes the early chapters to detailed introductions and descriptions of her characters and paints a lot of color and depth into who they are and what makes them tick. She does a superb job of painting a cast of misfits that stand alone as much as they complement each other with their quirkiness. I have to say one of my favorites is Lonnie. She is a recent graduate of the ‘Institute’ (a psych ward) and certainly battles her demons: "...Lonnie didn’t like the Institute. There were lots of scary people there. Watching her. They were always watching her. Giving her pills. Pills she didn’t need. And there were cameras and bells. Bells that went off at night..." This is a minor sampling of the thoughts that permeate most of the moments in this particular character’s conscious mind. Yamashita has a beautiful style of guiding her audience down a credible path and builds the anticipation and intrigue along the way that wills the reader to keep turning the pages because it just keeps getting better. There is not an obvious or predictable outcome to the growing mystery. Rather, there are wonderful twists and turns to this plot with an ample supply of rich dialogue, great character description and an ample bounty of surprise outcomes throughout. Great job and congratulations on your debut novel Ms. Yamashita!
Quill says: City Under One Roof checks all the boxes of an exciting and unpredictable read that is set in the great wilderness of the Alaskan frontier.