A woman avenges her childhood rape and the death of her sister by embarking on a killing spree in Pierce’s (Whatever Happened to Spanky Ledbedder?, 2014, etc.) novel.
Twins Misty and Kristy Judge grow up happy and carefree in the small town of Foster, Tennessee. Kristy is shy and studious, while Misty is outspoken and a little more rebellious. Unfortunately, their relatively idyllic life comes to an end when several boys from their hometown, including Brad Tipton, the son of the local sheriff, brutally and viciously rape them. This is just the beginning of their family’s torment; the sheriff intimidates or buys off the family’s doctors and lawyers, and when Kristy winds up pregnant, he forces her to get an abortion. When a heartbroken Kristy ends up taking her own life, Misty lashes out at her own family, runs away to New Orleans, and begins a new life. As time passes, she plans her revenge, preparing to kill everyone involved, starting with Sheriff Tipton. As the remaining men, including Brad himself, try to catch her before she can complete her mission, Misty tries to survive and ensure that her story is publicly told. Pierce’s compelling premise taps into the zeitgeist, as the silencing of rape victims and the failure of social institutions to support them are all-too-important issues. Unfortunately, nearly all the characters here feel a bit too flat, and more emphasis on character development would have helped to make the novel more emotionally accessible. Misty is complex and strong, but it seems as if readers are supposed to root for her to commit multiple murders; problematizing this issue more would have made her seem more realistic. The bad guys also come across as cartoonish, especially Brad, who says things such as, “I’ve waited for this day for so, so long. I want to savor this.”
A choppy, heavy-handed thriller.