A decades’ old murder. The killer on death row. The family he destroyed and left behind picks up the fractured pieces of their lives and moves forward.
Now, his daughter Pam is grown and the family fault lines have shifted some. Aunt Lida may have raised Pam as her own but she wasn’t. And Pam may have loved Aunt Lida and Uncle Frank like her parents, but they weren’t. The frailty of these family relationships plays out blatantly in this story. When Pam and Lida’s secrets are revealed to one another, the harshness of the cause and effect on both of them threatens to tear apart their already tenuous relationship.
And while Clarence, the death row inmate, should be the only bad guy in the story, he isn’t always. The shock waves the murder sent through these people’s lives results in some unseemly behavior by characters who were initially victims.
But none of us is all bad and none all good, right? This includes the guy locked up and waiting for the needle. As much as you want the murder story to change, it doesn’t. But through the unfolding of the story, you see the weaknesses in all of the characters, not just the killer. And somehow it’s comforting. While this family’s messiness is greater than most, the familial struggles are all relatable. Love, jealousy, fear, pain. Manaster hits on all of them and tells a good yarn along the way.
No one would ever wish a similar horror on a family, but how far away are any of us, really, from taking things one step too far? A step from which there is no coming back?
Publisher: Tyrus Books
Elizabeth's rating: 3½ stars