Roy’s suspenseful debut novel presents readers with a rich mix of troubled characters planted against the backdrop of a small Kansas farming town and the mysterious deaths of two young girls.
In the turbulent 1960s, Arthur and Celia Scott leave rioting Detroit behind with their three children and move back to Arthur's childhood home in Kansas. His mother, Reesa, and sister, Ruth, still live there, but things have not been going well with Ruth, long married to the drunken bully who once loved their sister, Eve. The fragile blonde Eve died violently many years ago, her body found in the shed on the Scott property. The community’s consensus is that Ray murdered Eve; whether or not the charge is true, her death certainly turned his life to ruins. Soon the family settles in: Arthur and Celia’s oldest daughter meets and falls for a local boy, while young Daniel, their son, struggles to become a man in a town where he has no friends and a father who doesn’t believe in him. Meanwhile, the youngest child, Eve-ee, who like her namesake aunt is both small and fair, finds kinship with her long-dead relative, who left behind a closet of beautiful dresses and a sad statue of the Virgin Mary. When another local girl, also blonde, petite and Eve-ee’s age, disappears and is feared murdered, the Scotts reexamine the circumstances surrounding Eve’s death. Soon Ruth finds herself once again on the receiving end of one of Ray’s beatings, but this time she has Arthur to shield her. Eventually, the Scott family realizes the truth about what happened to Eve, and Ruth deals with the frightening future she faces if she stays with her husband. Roy, a former tax accountant, writes sparingly of the bleakness of life and death on a farm. In her hands, the plot twists and turns, but, in the end, all the pieces fit, although the denouement is unsettling.
This odd, dark and often creepy tale of a dysfunctional community and a family that fits right in will keep readers wondering right until the last page.