Summer, 1926. A young woman alights from a bus in a Cape Cod village and embarks on an odyssey she cannot foretell. The new art teacher at Chatham School, Elizabeth Channing, has come from an exotic and liberated world, a world so different to this small town. She moves into a cottage beside Black Pond, and from that moment, the ripples she causes ...
Summer, 1926. A young woman alights from a bus in a Cape Cod village and embarks on an odyssey she cannot foretell. The new art teacher at Chatham School, Elizabeth Channing, has come from an exotic and liberated world, a world so different to this small town. She moves into a cottage beside Black Pond, and from that moment, the ripples she causes move outwards with an increasing ferocity until they create a terrifying storm of lust, anger and, ultimately, death. Seven decades later, the bodies are buried, the headlines are dust, proud Chatham School little but a memory. Only one living soul knows the answer to the questions that tore the soul from the town. Only now can he summon the courage to piece together the jagged fragments of a once tranquil world.
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This book is written in first person retrospect and for the first 100 or so pages it goes on like an old mans ramblings of the past which can be a bit frustrating. However, the desire to uncover the full story is not without reward as the tale winds into its final chapters with an excellent plot twist.
The tale itself revolves around Henry, grown up from his school boy days, as he reminisces about his involvement with the largest crime in his quaint new england hometown. It involves forbidden love, and a murder trial.
Publishers Weekly, 1996-06-24 Like the best of his crime-writing colleagues, Cook (Breakheart Hill) uses the genre to open a window onto the human condition. In this literate, compelling novel, he observes the lives of people doomed to fates beyond their control and imagination. One character here comments: "If you look back on your life and ask, What did I do?, then it means that you didn't do anything." Elizabeth Channing is trying to change the path of her life as, in 1926, she arrives to teach art at a small boys' school located in the Cape Cod village of Chatham. Believing that "life is best lived at the edge of folly," she immediately enthralls the novel's narrator, Henry, the headmaster's son. But Elizabeth is drawn to a fellow teacher, Leland Reed, a freethinker who is unhappily married and has begun to have serious doubts about his life. The inevitable tragedy and its aftermath is narrated by a mature, melancholy Henry looking back at the strange, bleak fates of those involved. Cook is a marvelous stylist, gracing his prose with splendid observations about people and the lush, potentially lethal landscape surrounding them. Events accelerate with increasing force, but few readers will be prepared for the surprise that awaits at novel's end. Literary boundaries mean little to Cook; crime fiction is much the better for that. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 1997-08-18 PW gave a starred review to this "literate, compelling novel" about passion and tragedy in 1920s Cape Cod. (Sept.)
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