Alternately horrifying and deeply moving, this fast-paced true-crime report by Cook (Early Graves, The City When It Rains--both 1990, etc.) focuses on the murder of six members of the Alday family of rural Seminole County, Georgia, on May 14, 1973. The slaughter was the work of three brothers--Carl and Billy Isaacs and Wayne Coleman--and of a slow-witted black man, George Dungee. The quartet were on the lam from Baltimore, where Carl, Wayne, and George had recently escaped from prison. Billy, the youngest, was along for the excitement. Spotting the trailer home of Jerry and Mary Alday, the four men, short on cash, pulled into the yard and began rifling the place. In the midst of the burglary, Jerry and his father arrived home and were promptly shot to death. A while later, other family members arrived: each was murdered. The last to appear was Mary, who was killed after being raped repeatedly. Then the murderers took off in her car and began roaming the South, staging holdups and stealing cars. Eventually arrested in West Virginia, they were returned to Georgia to stand trial. Billy turned state's evidence, and the three others were given death penalties--but the sentences were appealed, with two overturned. Today, a totally unrepentant Carl is apparently still manipulating the system and issuing statements such as, ""What did [the victims] ever do? No one would have ever paid any attention to them, if I hadn't come along and killed them."" In Cook's capable hands, the cumulative effect is shattering. And when the author writes of the sufferings of surviving Alday family members--the loss of their farm, or their reliving of the tragic events with each new judicial maneuver--his words prove sensitive and resonant. An immensely involving work that shifts from the repellent to the heartwarming and back and asks important questions about the clash between criminals' and victims' rights.