Danny Doyle became a forensic psychologist in hopes of understanding why his mother murdered his baby sister, Molly. But probing the criminal mind may also prove helpful in solving a new murder.
O’Dell (Fragile Beasts, 2010, etc.) returns to the forgotten towns of Western Pennsylvania in her latest psychological thriller. A bookish, bullied child, Danny, who goes by Sheridan professionally, grew up in the impoverished town of Lost Creek. Founded upon the backs of Irish immigrants who mined coal for the rich boss, Walker Dawes, it’s a town with a troubled past. The residents are haunted by the legend of the Nellie O’Neills, 10 miners who violently rebelled and were hanged for their audacity. Danny’s great-great-grandfather was one of those rebels. Saddled with an abusive father and a mentally ill mother, Danny was protected and practically raised by his maternal grandfather, the gruff Tommy. Now a polished professional living in Philadelphia, he devotes his money to Armani suits and his attention to serial killers. He doesn’t want to cure the criminals he studies so much as understand them. Prompted by Tommy’s bout with pneumonia and his mother’s release from her latest psychiatric facility, Danny has come home just in time to help Rafe Malloy, his childhood mentor and Lost Creek’s sole detective, investigate the death of Simon Husk, whose body was found at the foot of the infamous gallows. Scarlet Dawes, the great-great-granddaughter of the man who sentenced the rebels to death, has also come home. Posh boarding schools and a glamorous lifestyle in Paris mark her as an outsider, but she cautions her alcoholic mother that she won’t leave until she discovers the truth behind a blackmailer’s note. Soon she's crossing paths with Danny, and their mysteries begin to overlap.
Personal demons, childhood traumas and class warfare add up to a gritty tale of vengeance.