Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Book Review: Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin

Saint X
Alexis Schaitkin

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Aus 
Imprint: Picador
Publication date: 25th February 2020
Genre: Crime / Mystery
Pages: 320
RRP: $29.99AUD
Format read: paperback 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Claire is only seven years old when her college-age sister, Alison, disappears on the last night of their family vacation at a resort on the Caribbean island of Saint X. Several days later, Alison’s body is found in a remote spot on a nearby cay, and two local men – employees at the resort - are arrested. But the evidence is slim, the timeline against it, and the men are soon released. The story turns into national tabloid news, a lurid mystery that will go unsolved. For Claire and her parents, there is only the return home to broken lives.

Years later, Claire is living and working in New York City when a brief but fateful encounter brings her together with Clive Richardson, one of the men originally suspected of murdering her sister. It is a moment that sets Claire on an obsessive pursuit of the truth - not only to find out what happened the night of Alison’s death but also to answer the elusive question: Who exactly was her sister? 

Claire is seven when her family go on holiday to the island of Saint X. On the last night of their holiday her 18 year-old sister, Alison, goes missing. Her body is found 3 days later.

The story starts with the family holiday and Alison’s attitude and flirting and her subsequent demise . The mystery is; was she murdered? No one is charged and it is all swept under the carpet by the island’s police.

Years later a grown Claire becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Alison to the point of neglecting all else around her.
There are multiple points of view in this story of privilege, recklessness and obsession.

For me the story became bogged down, it was very slow and I sometimes became confused if what I was reading really happened or it was simply conjecture.

The mystery was compelling and it was that and Schaitkin’s hypnotic writing, that pushed me through the book.

The characters were well developed and I liked the small peek at the other holiday makers that were on the island and how the tragedy had affected their lives.

Through Saint X, Alexis Schaitkin shows us how a moment in time, an incident, can have an effect on so many lives.


Photo credit: Goodreads
Alexis Schaitkin’s short stories and essays have appeared in many literary journals and newspapers. Her fiction has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. She received her MFA in fiction from the University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow. She lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts with her husband and son. 
Saint X is her debut novel. 

Author website  



  1. Pity the story wasn't perfect for you. I've read a few that have bogged me down too. Great review.

  2. I hate when a story is slow. I need a good pace to keep me entertained.

  3. Sorry that this really didn’t work for you.