A stint as a juror leads, many years later, to a relationship with a convicted killer.
In 1978, the murder of Larry Hasker rocked peaceful Honolulu, his body found just 25 feet from a highway. At the time, Kansas-born Spalding, recently married to a photographer and living in Honolulu, read about the crime in the paper. Four years later, she became an alternate juror in the murder trial of young Maryann Acker. Hasker was one of two victims in a crime spree; Maryann’s husband William had already been convicted of killing the other, Cesario Arauza. In a bizarre twist, William was a prosecution witness in the case against Maryann, predictably foisting responsibility onto her. Spalding noted numerous anomalies in the proceedings and felt an affinity for Maryann, only 18 at the time of the crime. On the last day of the trial, Spalding arrived late and was abruptly dismissed. Shortly thereafter, she moved to Toronto and thought little of Maryann until a decade later, when she came upon her notes from the trial. After a little digging, she was amazed to learn that Maryann was still in prison and contacted her. (In the meantime, Spalding had become a critically acclaimed novelist and scholar (Mere, 2001, etc.), now married to Booker Prize–winning author Michael Ondaatje.) Spalding’s research supplements letters from Maryann about her early years and recent struggles, and snippets of news articles and transcripts pepper the narrative. The author also fleshes out Maryann’s story before prison as well as her efforts to gain release. Short, elegantly written chapters find Spalding examining her own life through the prism of Maryann’s, with ruminations on family and love and the details of everyday living.
A literary tapestry of true crime, memoir and personal essay that simultaneously enthralls and disturbs.