Snobbery, bigotry and cultural clashes are brought to a boil by malicious talk of an old murder.
Madeline Dare, the poor relation of an old North Shore Long Island WASP family, is a child of oft-divorced parents brought up in a world of privilege even as the money trickles away. Married to Dean Bauer, an inventive farm son who’s often away working in Canada, Madeline hates her job on a small Syracuse paper—and hates everything else about Syracuse. On a visit to the family farm, her father-in-law shows her dog tags he uncovered in a field where two unidentified young girls were found 19 years before, their throats cut, posed in a bizarre tableau. The tags bear the name of her favorite cousin, Lapthorne Townsend. In an attempt to prove his innocence, Madeline starts investigating the murders without involving the police. The girls had been seen at the State Fair with two soldiers from Camp Drum, but the silhouettes they posed for have disappeared. When Madeline finds the artist murdered, clues at the crime scene lead her to realize that a serial killer is at work. She and her friend Ellis shuttle between her relatives’ crumbling estates and lowlife bars before more murders bring to light the shattering truth.
Read’s sensational debut features spot-on descriptions of upstate-downstate conflicts, strong characterizations and a fascinating plot.