A young woman whose broken family amounts to at least two strikes against her struggles to survive and protect her kid brother before she’s overwhelmed by a rising tide of small-town criminal conspiracy.
Everybody in Blind River knows who Jamie Elders is. She’s the 19-year-old whose father died years ago in a barroom fight; the girl whose mother, Phoebe, takes the morning shift at the local diner now that she’s been released from prison after eight years; the girl who was left along with her brother, Toby, in the custody of her Uncle Loyal when it became clear that serving her sentence didn’t qualify Phoebe Elders any better for motherhood. The one thing they don’t know is how successful Jamie’s been at online poker, a gift she hopes will lift her out of upstate New York and allow her to live in Florida. But when she overreaches on the strength of a substantial pot she’s won, she ends up even deeper than usual in Loyal’s debt, and he’s quick to call in the marker when he needs help moving an inconvenient corpse from the home of Judge Jefferson William Keating to places unknown. Horrified at what she’s already done, at the ease with which Toby is sucked into the maelstrom, and at what worse possibilities lurk just around the corner, Jamie knows she can’t trust her mother or brother or uncle—or Jack DelMar, the longtime partner in Loyal’s financial shenanigans, or suspicious local cop Carl Garcia, or least of all Keating, the law in Blind River. The best she can do is trust her own instincts and her tactical cunning and her feral will to survive, the only worthwhile legacy she’s ever inherited from the Elders family.
Massey’s debut novel manages to be both poetic and propulsive, unfolding a familiar story of the long odds against redemption posed by family dysfunction with power and grace.