A 1950s doctor finds her considerable talents unappreciated in Zillah, Indiana.
Maggie Kendall loves her job at a women’s clinic in Chicago; her physician husband, Bennett, wants to return to his hometown and follow in the footsteps of his father. Bennett presses Maggie, telling her that it’ll be a better home for their daughter, Ellie, and that Maggie can help underprivileged people in Zillah. But the powers that be refuse to grant her hospital privileges, and Bennett’s mother loathes her. Passionate about her commitment to help people who can’t afford medical care, Maggie’s shocked to discover that she stands accused of scheming to bring socialized medicine to Zillah, a town where racism runs rampant and women are considered stay-at-home-mother material. Despite the opposition, she opens a women’s clinic financed by an organization trying to bring better health care to rural areas. Then the clinic is burned to the ground, and Maggie’s left with a single friend, an ambitious young aide to a right-wing politician who helps her cover up a dubious death. Flash-forward to 1992, when a maid is found dead and a dog badly injured in a motel room rented by one Margaret Mueller Kendall. Ellie, now grown and married to a college professor, thought her mother had died years ago. Long-buried secrets threaten to come to light—secrets that may be the death of Maggie, and Ellie too.
Despite a general lack of mystery, this sophomore case from Dailey (Animal, Vegetable, Murder, 2013) depicts the good old days in a way that may make your blood boil as you ask how much things have really changed.