Tigers in Red Weather opens at the end of World War II with cousins and best friends Nick and Helena sharing a house, awaiting the return of Nick’s husband and Helena’s imminent marriage to an insurance man who is pursuing his dream of movie-making in Hollywood. What seems a bright start for each, turns out like everything else in this novel–not quite what it seems. Helena’s husband turns out to be a charlatan, obsessed with building a shrine to a dead starlet. When Helena grows restless, he offers her pills to soothe her. Nick’s husband, Hughes, is oddly detached upon his return from war, harboring a secret that she tacitly agrees to keep.
The cousins reunite each summer at Tiger House, the family second home on Martha’s Vineyard, and the reader accompanies them when Nick’s daughter, Daisy and Helena’s son, Ed are on the cusp of adolescence, then in the days before Daisy is to wed. There is a lot that these characters elegantly ignore in one another–Nick’s misplaced need for attention, Helena’s growing addiction, Ed’s morbid strangeness, Daisy’s interest in a boy who doesn’t return her affection. Events take a dark turn when adolescents Daisy and Ed discover a maid who’s been brutally murdered and left in a deserted hideaway. The murder is a tear in the beautiful exterior fabric of the characters’ lives. The unraveling culminates in an act of desperate violence on the eve of Daisy’s wedding.
The novel presents events from five of the characters’ points of view, a device that effectively builds tension and offers reader’s a satisfyingly evolving understanding of the story.
This is Lisa Klaussmann’s first novel, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.