The story of a mother who avenges her child's rape, in this latest from Picoult (Salem Falls, 2001, etc.).
Assistant DA Nina Frost has prosecuted many cases of sexual abuse involving children—surely, she agonizes, she should have recognized the signs of it in her own son. Five-year-old Nathaniel had been wetting the bed, acting out in school, and refusing to talk. A child psychiatrist teaches him the rudiments of American Sign Language in the hopes that he will be able to communicate somehow, and then a medical examination reveals unmistakable signs of forced anal penetration. But there's no telling who did it, until Nathaniel silently gives the first clue: father. Nina is aghast. Could the husband she loves so well, stalwart stonemason Caleb Frost, have raped their son? She gets a restraining order against him. Further investigation and a photo line-up reveal still more clues: perhaps Nathaniel meant Father Glen Syzynski, a local priest. Eventually, Syzynski is charged with sexual assault, and Nina blows the priest's brains out in the courtroom, even though she doesn't know yet whether or not the DNA in his blood sample matches the DNA in the semen stain on her son's underpants. She's a mother now, not a prosecutor. Uh-oh: she finds out later that the priest had leukemia, and the blood marrow transplant that saved his life essentially gave him someone else’s blood. She shot the wrong child molester! Further investigation on her behalf reveals another possible culprit, also a priest: Father Syzynski's half-brother, Gwynn, whose name Nathaniel mispronounced. Could he be the blood donor and did he rape Nina’s son? Time and lab tests reveal the truth, as our heroine suffers the indignities of imprisonment and trial. Father Gwynn dies peacefully but mysteriously in his sleep before he can be charged . . . but justice is done, though not through the legal system.
Nicely written, but hopelessly contrived and generally unconvincing.