In novelist Wemlinger’s (Operation Light Switch, 2017, etc.) tale for our times, a soldier loses his legs.
Maj. David Keller’s promising career comes to an abrupt end when an IED blows off his legs, with not even enough left to make prosthetics possible. Physically his chances of recovery are good, but he is as depressed and suicidal as one would expect. And adrift. When he left Onekama, Michigan, for West Point there was bad blood, mostly between him and his dad. So he soon cut all ties with his family and his hometown, including with his high school sweetheart, Maggie Lassiter. When we meet Maggie, she is married to Ray McCall, a real brute. Their divorce only enrages Ray further. He will get her back, and any suspected rivals will feel his righteous wrath. Meanwhile, the whole town pulls together to welcome David home. Reluctantly, he goes along with this; however, secretly he is still plotting his suicide. But he needs to make amends with his dad, now slipping into dementia, and of course there is still a spark for Maggie. The turning point comes when Ray tries to kill him. Instead, he kills Ray with the same pistol that he’d bought to do himself in. He faces trial, which may end with a promising future with Maggie. Wemlinger knows how to plot a novel and pace it well. And his characters grip us. There is PJ who loves his big brother and has now reversed the roles, taking care of David. Ray McCall is a truly bad dude, so easy to hate. Emily, Maggie’s girlfriend, is the sidekick we all recognize. Trial scenes are always grabbers, and Wemlinger does not disappoint (he also has lot of fun with the pompous lawyer Myles Wingate).
A well-cast, effective portrayal of a small town rallying for its own.