An agonizing, tantalizing mystery that builds to the very end. I read it in one night and immediately passed my copy to a friend.
Why I love it
First, a bit of context about my relationship with the bad seed genre: I read We Need to Talk About Kevin in one sitting, my baby son dozing sweetly in my lap while I lost myself in the world of one of fiction's most notoriously violent teens. When the movie came out, I went by myself to a 10PM screening where I shared a pitch-black theater with a lone man who laughed uproariously when the tip of an arrow pierced the flesh of its first victim. At that moment, I feared for my own safety—and started to question my enthusiasm for books about kids gone wrong.
Now, thanks to the arrival of Lacy Eye, I'm right back in the saddle—and more appreciative than ever of my own garden-variety offspring who aren't even remotely interested in archery or croquet (more on this later).
Just as We Need to Talk About Kevin is a now-classic tale of a mom trying to make sense of her son's murderous rampage, Jessica Treadway's second novel comes to us from the perspective of a mother whose child has never been quite…right. When we meet Hanna, she's recovering from injuries sustained in a brutal attack where her husband, Joe, was bludgeoned to death in the bed next to her with a croquet mallet. In the aftermath Hanna struggles to understand: who would do this to an average accountant and his kind-hearted wife? All evidence points to Rud Petty, the charming boyfriend of Hanna and Joe's daughter, Dawn.
As Hannah works to surface buried memories from that night, she must confront the possibility that Dawn might have been central to the attack. Treadway's thoughtful mystery gathers steam through interviews, court papers and Hanna's flashbacks to an ordinary time that suddenly doesn't seem so ordinary at all. Watching her lift the curtain from her own memory is the central pleasure of reading this book. You're rooting for clarity even as you know that the cloudy view is sparing her the worst kind of heartbreak.
Discovering more than she ever wanted to know, Hanna bravely confronts truths about her own life and her children that would leave any mother heartbroken. A tense psychological thriller, the novel teasingly doles out snippets of information, keeping you as much in the dark its characters are. It's an agonizing, tantalizing mystery that builds to the very end. I read it in one night and immediately passed my copy to a friend, who also read it in one night. What higher praise is there?