After the small town of Hope, Ga., is rocked by the hit-and-run death of a 10-year-old girl, two brothers set out to find her murderer in Mustin’s debut thriller.
When Emily Shane is killed by a hit-and-run driver, her father, Pat, begins to obsess over the idea that known-alcoholic Phil Agee is the culprit. It was Agee’s vehicle that was seen ricocheting away from the crime scene, after all. But Agee’s close involvement with prominent liberal Sen. Alan Baxter leads Pat to suspect that the police and Baxter are withholding evidence and not interested in pursuing justice. Pat’s increasingly violent mood swings and volatile outbursts are driving a wedge between him and his wife, Yvonne; the town; and his brother Jason, a Vietnam War vet who lives with the couple. In order to save his family, Jason agrees to investigate the case with old war buddy and private detective Wilton Byrd—as long as Pat lays low. As the case enfolds, more tragedy ensues and Jason and Wilton uncover secrets and lies that shatter the family and town. Author Mustin has created a rich, layered and believable character study of Hope and its people; these are fundamentally decent people who struggle against a greater machine. Some lose their souls and lives trying to make a difference. The corrupting nature of power (the enormity of which is the title’s “reason to tremble”), the damaging effects of war and personal loss, and issues of trust and betrayal are explored with intelligence and depth as two men risk everything to uncover the truth. Filled with complex characters and relationships, this novel is moving and compulsively readable. Ultimately, readers may ask whether holding onto ideals and integrity is really worth this high a price.
An absorbing thriller wrapped in a sharp, biting critique of corruption.