Saturday, September 6, 2008

By Karen Harrington

When you open the cover of this book and read the inside flap, the description begins by saying, "When mothers kill their children, people want to know why."  Don't let those words mislead you.  Yes, that's the main theme of the novel, but it's not a depressing look at a child killer.

The novel is set in Texas and could have been a real headline.  Jane Nelson drowns her infant son and attempts to drown his twin sister.  Instead of the novel focusing on Jane, the focus is on the Jane Nelson's husband, Tom Nelson.   We see the tragic events through Tom's eyes.  He alternates between not believing the wife he knew could have done this unspeakable thing and finding himself guilty for not seeing that things were horribly wrong.    The novel is a fascinating journey of love, loss and family legacy.  

A prosecutor decides Tom is partially responsible for the death of his son, and charges of "failure to protect" are brought against him.   Tom is defended by a feisty attorney with a radical defense idea that he hopes will create reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury.  Tom also finds himself being aided by a strange woman with the power of retro cognition, the ability to see past events through objects once owned by Jane's deceased family members.  Is the murder a result of "nature" or "nurture?" 

The book is a fascinating read and I couldn't put it down.  Please don't think this is a "downer" novel, it is rather an interesting exploration into "genealogy" and the question "Are the sins of the father really visited on future generations?"  What do you think? 


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