Gale Grayson has come back to Statlers Cross, Georgia, to write, hoping to find in her quiet hometown the strength to confront the memories and mysteries of her husband's life and death.
But the delicate balance in the rural community has been altered by outsiders: a family of immigrants and a visiting professor who hopes to study the area's most isolated residents -- families with a dialect and rules of their own.
In a place trapped between the present and the past, a shocking act of violence uncovers dark and dangerous truths about people whose roots go back for generations. The ties between the living and the dead are strong, and even the presence of visiting Scotland Yard detective Daniel Halford may not help unravel such a brutal crime.
It falls to Gale, her grandmother Ella, and her precocious daughter, Katie Pru, to piece together a terrifying tapestry of history and hatred whose tangled threads weave a complicated tale of betrayal. Yet it is in the photographs of Gale's young protegee Nadianna Jesup that the truth may be found ... a truth that is sheer murder for anyone who stumbles across it.
Readers looking for a juicy, easy-to-read mystery are likely to be disappointed by Holbrook's sluggish new offering (following the Edgar Award-nominated Sad Water). Statlers Cross is normally a sleepy Southern town. The locals know who belongs in what class, and there's naturally some gossip. When a car with three dead men inside is uncovered, however, the residents find themselves embroiled in a mystery that threatens to dislodge their long-held secrets. Writer Gale Grayson has returned home after her husband's death to raise her daughter with the help of her mother, grandmother and a young female assistant. Meanwhile, her houseguest, Scotland Yard detective Daniel Halford, can't help but examine the murder case. All too many residents have attempted to thwart the police investigation--the murder weapons belong to a woman who claims she has no idea who stole the guns from her home; one of the murder victims is a Vietnamese immigrant whose sister offers few clues about her brother's presence in the area--and readers may forget the key details as they try to keep track of the numerous subplots and characters. While Holbrook convincingly portrays a Southern town and its inhabitants, the complex plot hinders the momentum of this overly ambitious read. (Feb. 6) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.