Lush-languaged Cook (Sacrificial Ground, Blood Innocents), in a pared-down mode. True-crime writer Jackson Kinley returns to Sequoyah, Georgia, first for his grandmother's funeral, then for that of his best friend, Ray, who died while seemingly obsessed with the years-ago murder of teenager Ellie Dinker. Charles Overton, the man electrocuted for her murder, was the father of Ray's lover, Dora. Or was he--either Dora's father, that is, or a murderer? As Kinley follows Ray's trail (word-by-word reading of the original trial transcript; interviews with witnesses; visits to the supposed crime scene), discrepancies appear and facts blur. Facts or merely wishes? The closer Kinley comes to the truth, the more he disrupts his own life and long-held assumptions regarding his father, his mother, and, above all, his grandmother, all of whom, incontrovertibly, revelation by painful revelation, are drawn into the tale of poor Ellie Dinker, her pregnancy, her unsuccessful abortion, and its aftermath. Gripping southern drama, with its byzantine family trees, old wives' tales, and overheated memories. One of the better Cooks to date.