When Brenda Bray, better known to the world as Rae Brand, author of the popular Elsinor Grey mystery series, returns home to Hamilton, she is set upon by vivid memories of the fall of 1962 when she struck up an intense relationship with a classmate, and together they sought to track and catch an escaped serial killer believed to be hiding out on the escarpment. Brenda and Jori search for this elusive murderer, their friendship twisting as the weeks pass, becoming tautly fantastic and pre-adolescently sexual, eventually resulting in real tragedy. As the story of their brief time together unravels it becomes apparent that the headlines about Jori’s disappearance only touch on the truth, and that Brenda must finally face up to that youthful friendship and its results if she is going to discover any peace. Unputdownable, Brown Dwarf is an intense and thrilling psychological drama.
Miller uses the conventions of the detective novel but is concerned with more than just the bare-bones question of whodunit. Although she remains under-appreciated, she is one of Canada’s finest writers, able to probe deeper into the human heart than the best surgeon. Here, as in her earlier stories, Miller’s concern is with why people do what they do rather than just what they do. Miller has a keen sense for how mixed all human motives are, how closely aligned love and hate can be and how deceiving others always involves a bit of self-deception. —The National Post
There are several ways to pen a story concerning young girls and criminal acts. One method: treat it lightly, à la Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce mysteries, playing the crime as an old-fashioned puzzler. Another technique: follow K.D. Miller’s example in Brown Dwarf and examine the more serious ramifications of such events. In her debut novel, Miller eschews a “sepia-tinted past that smells of lavender and old books,” and instead focuses on the ways in which youthful decisions result in untold damage. —Quill and Quire
In the wee hours of this morning, unable to put the book down, I read the last few chapters of K.D. Miller’s novel, Brown Dwarf. Miller expertly builds and maintains the tension in this concise psychological drama until the very end.—New Quarterly