Bruised by life but tough as a horsewhip, a 30-something New York farm gal sets out to prove the innocence of her brother, who’s been convicted of murdering his wife.
Teddi is more than familiar with hard knocks, largely because her widowed, ungrateful father treats her as an unwelcome slave. The maltreatment continues even after her father is killed in an automobile accident: His will gives the resort, which she built up on her own, to her long-lost brother and his two young daughters and stipulates that she must find out the exact circumstances of her brother’s wife’s murder. In the process, Teddi learns the truth about the rape she endured in high school at the hands of three jocks. In Quick’s debut novel, Teddi and the supporting characters—a hunk of a private investigator, lawyers and prison officials—have genuine, human emotions about themselves and the world, showing a remarkable depth that will draw readers in. What’s more, almost all the characters have flaws—a rare feat for a first-time author. The first line—“Mother Nature rose to the occasion of once again being fickle”—is a humdinger that whets the appetite, but the tale struggles to reach the heights of the first chapter. Quick goes on to shine a light on prison conditions and how some guards prove themselves to be devious, unpleasant specimens of humanity. Elsewhere, though, the book suffers from being too sweet, with the two daughters turning out to be unbearably cute and lovable, with no irritating childhood habits. Revenge, second chances and unexpected plot twists are marred by a distracting tendency to portray purity and innocence with frequent mentions of milk and cookies.
An intriguing read underneath the schmaltz.