March 24, 2010


Michelle Huneven


(March 24, 2010)

I have been reading too few mysteries since the demise of The Drood Review. I looked at the Edgar nominees, ordered a bunch of books, and somehow got this National Book Critics Circle nominee mixed in. Patsy, an effervescent and young English professor, hits two Jehovah’s Witnesses in her driveway one drunken night. She goes to prison, gets sober, and gradually puts most of the fragments of her life together. It’s a familiar tale, albeit one Huneven tells with grace and a nice sense of place.

Formally, the book is intriguing. The opening chapters are told from the point-of-view of a 12-year-old minor character; she's brilliantly drawn but completely peripheral and, once Patsy goes to jail, she’s neglected. The story is formally a mystery, but constructed in such a way that almost the entire book is prologue.