A Pennsylvania police officer digs deep, then still deeper, into the mystery of an inexplicably slaughtered family.
Professor Thomas Huston seemed to have it all: a successful career as a novelist, a position as a popular teacher at Shenango College, a loving wife, and three children too young to have grown away from him yet. So why on earth would he have taken a razor to their throats before disappearing into the night? Why, even if he felt compelled to end their lives, would he have varied his technique for his baby son, stabbing him in the heart instead? And why, if he’s so determined to run away, does he keep hovering around the town, telephoning his friends only to read them poems by Edgar Allan Poe? Sgt. Ryan DeMarco counts himself as one of those friends, but he finds Huston’s behavior, whether or not he’s as guilty as he looks, as inexplicable as everyone else. Unlike everyone else, however, DeMarco can’t let go of these agonizing riddles. Still mourning the death of his own baby son in a car crash, he feels an uncanny kinship to Huston, an intimacy that deepens when he retraces the writer’s steps to Whispers, the strip club where Huston had cultivated owner Bonnie Harris and dancer Danni Reynolds as models for Annabel, the heroine of his latest novel. As DeMarco, who’s a lot better at butting heads with station commander Sgt. Kyle Bowen, the supervisor he used to supervise before his demotion, than at detective work, struggles to make sense of Huston’s behavior, Silvis (The Boy Who Shoots Crows, 2011, etc.) intercuts his inquiries with glimpses into Huston’s tantalizingly underspecified memories of the fatal night until the two men finally collide in the first of several memorable lurches into resolution.
Beneath the momentum of the investigation lies a pervasive sadness that will stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page.