In a classy domestic whodunit, a backwoods sheriff tracks the killer of a troubled Michigan family.
Hugh DeWitt, county sheriff in Blessed, Michigan, is nobody’s idea of a hard-boiled cop. A quiet, gentle soul, Hugh is a happily settled husband and father who silently nurses his grief over the death of his baby son three years ago, meanwhile carrying on with life as best he can. Most of Hugh’s work is routine boondocks stuff—roadhouse brawls, domestic violence—but one day he’s jolted into an unwelcome new world when an entire family is found shot to death in his jurisdiction. Edward and Paige Norboise were a well-to-do couple from Ann Arbor who built a second home in Blessed for summer vacations with their four children. Edward ran a publishing house; Paige was a homemaker. As soon as Hugh looks into the case, he finds no lack of motive. Paige had only recently broken off an affair she’d been carrying on. Edward, meanwhile, had recently discovered that one of his employees had been embezzling and was threatening him with jail unless he paid it back. A local handyman (whom Edward had fired for drinking on the job) is found stealing evidence from the scene of the crime. And the college roommate of one of the murdered sons turns out to have had sinister connections with a string of coeds who were victims of a serial killer. Hugh knows from first experience how badly life can go; what he’s not prepared for is discovering how some people do everything they can to make it do so.
A bit formulaic, but, still, brisk and highly readable: Guest (Errands, 1997, etc.) has a keen eye for the delicate fault lines that underlie family life and excels at showing us the ravages of domestic collapse.