MORTAL MEMORY by Thomas H. Cook


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 On November 19, 1959, William Patrick Farris, age 44, picked up a rifle, walked into his surly son Jamie's room and shot him, walked down the corridor and killed his much-loved daughter Laura, a pretty teenager, then tracked his wife Dottie as she ran frantically from room to room and murdered her as she cowered in the basement. He then got in his car and drove away, never to be seen again. Nine-year-old Stevie, playing at a friend's house, was the sole family member to escape the slaughter; and for over 30 years now he's been repressing the details of it, and the horror, as he's carved out a niche for himself in the architectural offices of Simpson and Lowe, gotten married, and himself become the father of a son who's now nine years old. At this point author Rebecca Soltero contacts him: his father's case is one of five she is including in her work on men who kill their families. In interview after interview, she and Stephen Farris piece together what his father did and why, and in each memory that surfaces, the present Farris family situation appears grimmer, darker, more troubled, inexorably leading to the dissolution of Stephen's family and his shattering search for and confrontation with his father in Spain. Cook (The City When it Rains, Evidence of Blood, etc.), often given to literary theatrics, here displays an impressive narrative simplicity and a therapist's insightfulness, producing a finely crafted psychological crime-fare.

Pub Date: April 21st, 1993
ISBN: 0-399-13829-3
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1993


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