The creator of private eye Ed Loy (City of Lost Girls, 2010, etc.) spins a stand-alone in which the fallout from a Halloween prank 35 years ago turns a perfect Wisconsin family’s life into a nightmare.
How do you tell your bride that you set the fire that killed her family? Danny Brogan has no idea, so he doesn’t even try. Instead, he enters into holy matrimony with Claire Taylor, nee Bradberry, without saying anything about the Halloween night when he was 11 and he and the rest of his posse—Dave Ricks, Gene Peterson and Ralph Cowley—sneaked off to the home of Jackie Bradberry, the dull-witted schoolmate whose brothers bullied them unmercifully, bent on excitement, and one of the Four Horsemen—presumably Danny, who knocked himself cold and doesn’t remember what happened—accidentally or deliberately tossed a Molotov cocktail through the window, burning the house to the ground. Now the past catches up with Danny and Claire in the form of a masked guest at a barbecue. The immediate upshot of Danny’s encounter with the angel of death is that Claire, returning home from a trip to Chicago to see an old beau, finds her husband and two daughters vanished, their house stripped bare of furniture and their dog hacked to death. And that’s only the beginning of the couple’s tribulations as Claire searches for Danny and they separately search for the truth about what’s happened and what’s about to happen.
Cutting back and forth from Claire to Danny to a Madison police officer to an assassin who’s been hired by a shadowy Mr. Big, Hughes sticks so close to each one that he manages to create a threatening, baffling world that feels both kaleidoscopic and claustrophobic.