An ex-convict in his 60s pays a visit to the daughter he hasn't seen since the night he murdered her mother in 1973.
Danny "The Sound" Ahearn was "head DJ in the glass booth on the Himalaya ride, the job every young man on the beach would bleed for." Linda Dubie was the sweet, sexy daughter of the guy who owned the Penny Arcade in their beach town north of Boston. Their insatiable hunger for each other led to marriage, then to the birth of a baby girl they called Suzie Woo Woo, and finally, one night when their daughter was 3, a jealous rage with irrevocable consequences. Linda's mother, Lois, sold the arcade and moved with her granddaughter, Suzie, to Florida, where she became an antiques dealer. Now in her early 40s, Susan is married to a kind man named Bobby Dunn. She teaches college English and is working on a memoir of her childhood, draft sections of which are included here. What Susan doesn't know is that her now ailing father is putting things in order, writing his will, and setting off down the East Coast in hopes of seeing her once more before he dies. Dubus (Dirty Love, 2013, etc.) puts this pot on a very slow boil, continuing to fill in the backstory as he inches the characters toward their climactic meeting, some of them carrying firearms. Grim, hopeless situations are this author's specialty, but the care he takes in the emotional development of his flawed characters buoys them against the undertow. Danny Ahearn is a uniquely sympathetic murderer, and the window we are given into Susan's memories and emotions through drafts and excerpts from her memoir brings us very close to her as well.
Dubus is in his gritty wheelhouse, exploring the question of how we live with our mistakes and whether we can ever stop adding to them.