Review by Cristina Bruno
Author: D. M. Pulley
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Literary genre: crime novel
Publication year: 2016
Synopsis.When Althea Leary abandons her nine-year-old son, Jasper, he’s left on his uncle’s farm with nothing but a change of clothes and a Bible. It’s 1952, and Jasper isn’t allowed to ask questions or make a fuss. He’s lucky to even have a home and must keep his mouth shut and his ears open to stay in his uncle’s good graces. No one knows where his mother went or whether she’s coming back. Desperate to see her again, he must take matters into his own hands. From the farm, he embarks on a treacherous search that will take him to the squalid hideaways of Detroit and back again, through tawdry taverns, peep shows, and gambling houses. As he’s drawn deeper into an adult world of corruption, scandal, and murder, Jasper uncovers the shocking past still chasing his mother and now it’s chasing him too.
Jasper is a nine years old boy and he lives in small town America, just outside Detroit. His life isn’t easy, between a not very present father and a mother with alcohol problems. And the situation becomes critical when suddenly one day his mother decides to leave him to his uncle Leo, who lives in a farm outside the town.
He has only a bag with a change of clothes and a Bible. Jasper doesn’t understand the reason of abandonment and he wants to find the truth. In fact he understands from speeches of adults that his mother is in big trouble or even she was killed. Accidentally he finds a diary of his mother. She wrote it when she was young and Jasper finds out painful and unknown events of her family life. Between daring escapes, chases and devastating tornadoes, the obstinacy of the boy will be able slowly to shed light on what really happened.
In her book the author provides a profile of 1950’s America. USA had just come out from the War and from Prohibition. Corruption was widely spread everywhere and the economy needed to be fixed up, after the difficult time of war. The daily problems of most of the common people concerned all sectors: the work was precarious and low paid, the supply was essential, alcohol dependence was frequent. In the countryside the life was, if it is possible, even most difficult, lacking any comfort, marked by the rhythm of harvesting and farming cycle. The condition of Native Americans was even worse, because they were relegated in small areas, the famous reservation. They survived often into illegality, because they were exploited and trampled on by white people.
The story proceeds through progressive concentric regressing into itself. We see the boy repeating more times, always with the same modality, his try for finding new evidences that lead him to his mother. The adult world is a difficult world to understand for the boy, because it is built on lie and violence. His rebellion, his escape are a protest act against something that he can’t accept as normal.
Parents, aunt and uncle are part of this world that has to live with ideal and reality and try to find an equal balance. At the opposite there are the bad guys, which are the traffickers colluding with law enforcement and then the persecuted, including Natives forced to submit to the wrong laws of white people. And the struggle between good and evil takes its toll everywhere.
Edited by Cristina Bruno
D.M. Pulley lives in northeast Ohio with her husband, her two children, and a dog named Hobo. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked as a Professional Engineer rehabbing historic structures and conducting forensic investigations of building failures. Pulley’s structural survey of a vacant building in Cleveland inspired her debut novel, The Dead Key, the winner of the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Since then, Pulley has sold over a half a million books worldwide, and her work has been translated into eight different languages.
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