Berkley, Oct 2003, 22.95, 272 pp.
In a small Oklahoma town during the summer of 1949 Gretchen Gilman left her innocence behind and saw the world as it actually was. She keeps busy working in her grandmother's cafe in the early mornings before rushing to work as a reporter for the local paper the Gazette.
After the police left Faye Tatum's place following somebody called in a complaint, Gretchen and her friend Barb, Faye's daughter, find Faye dead, the victim of strangulation. Faye's husband Clyde is nowhere to be found and popular opinion says that he killed her in a jealous rage after he found out she went to the local bar to dance while he was being prepared to be shipped out. Many people believe Faye deserved what she got because she was an artist who stepped out on her husband. Gretchen's grandmother is hiding Clyde who intends to find out who killed his wife. Tragedy begets death and for years after, Gretchen tries to put the events of that summer behind her until a letter from someone in her past stirs up all the ugly memories.
This story is told from Gretchen's perspective years after the fact and readers feel her pain as she remembers being ostracized by those she thought were friends because she wrote about Faye in the newspaper in a favorable light. This is more than just a murder mystery. It is a slice of small town America during the World War II years. Carolyn Hart has written a very rich and colorful atmospheric novel, one that captures the essence of a bygone era.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner