Roy (Let Me Die in His Footsteps, 2015 etc.) proves that sometimes you can’t, or shouldn’t, go home again when a woman returns to Florida, and the hold of her family’s troubled legacy, after a failed marriage.
Former reporter Lane Fielding has returned to Waddell, Florida, after her divorce from Kyle Wallace, her husband of 20 years. Along for the ride are her daughters, 18-year-old Annalee and her younger sister, Talley. It’s not an ideal arrangement: Fielding Plantation has quite a past, and Lane’s mother, Erma, moves about the house like a wraith while her father, Neil, a shadow of the man he once was, has been investigated for the possible abuse of boys under his care at the reform school that he ran, which closed three years ago and happens to be adjacent to their home. The press attention hasn’t waned, and it’s all Lane can do to keep her sanity, and her family, together. When Florida State University student Susannah Bauer goes missing, the community’s collective consciousness turns to the 1970s and a man named Ted, who whisked away a 12-year-old girl who was never seen again. When Annalee disappears, Sheriff Mark Ellenton, with whom Lane has a history, is a calming force, but Lane fears Annalee may have met a fate similar to Susannah’s. Meanwhile, a troubled young man named Daryl covets Susannah and Annalee from afar, but is he responsible for their disappearances? This contemporary slow burner oozes with atmosphere, and Roy effortlessly weaves numerous plot threads together without sacrificing her characters, who are very flawed and all too human. Secrets and lies abound, and Lane’s struggle to be a good mother while fighting her own considerable demons will resonate with readers, as will the chilling finale.
A twisted Southern gothic winner.