Arnold’s (Peace: Medjugorje Miracle and Message, 2004, etc.) novel is a well-crafted religious fiction about a big city lawyer who moves to a small town seeking a secure environment in which to raise her young daughter, only to find that she must face her worst nightmares.
Karen is a bright 30-something lawyer in a prestigious Los Angeles law firm. Although she is plagued by the untimely, accidental death of her husband, she delights in parenting their six-year-old daughter, Lisa. Karen thrives on hard work and single motherhood, yet worries that city life is too dangerous for raising a child. She and Lisa move to rural Oregon, where the pace is slower, the air is cleaner and the people are more caring and friendly. Or at least that’s what Karen thought–soon after their arrival, Lisa is brutally raped and murdered by a pedophile. Despite the fact that the murderer is caught and convicted, Karen is unable to rid herself of personal guilt. She interviews a prestigious psychiatrist who specializes in pedophilia cases and concludes that castration is the only cure for the mental illness. Determined to do everything she can to avenge Lisa’s death and assuage her guilt, Karen returns to her old job in Los Angeles and aids a former colleague in prosecuting a child molester. When the women suggest castration as a plea-bargaining solution, the case blows up in their faces. They lose their jobs, their reputations and become estranged. Karen seeks solace from a fatherly priest in a Catholic confessional. Re-energized, she marries and partners in business with David, a ruggedly handsome, successful businessman who makes her laugh. When a business deal falls through, their idyllic lifestyle crashes. Near total breakdown, Karen and David look to their religious roots for comfort, answers and a fresh start. Frequent lack of appropriate punctuation, choppy sentences and less-than-fluid movement between first person narrative and third person viewpoints only slightly detract from the story. The characterization and atmospheric staging otherwise blend seamlessly to provide a distinct and well-paced plot.
A compelling story filled with realistic characters displaying genuine emotion.