I've been on a major reading binge of late. I just finished Michael Thomas Ford's newest novel, What We Remember, yesterday and enjoyed it thoroughly.
I've read all of this author's books, so I am a fan. But this particular book was unique in that it really was also a mystery novel. While it explored the same intense human relationships and emotional themes that Ford's other books typically cover, I have a feeling the author wanted to try a different approach. The novel, which explores a murder in a family, is essentially a mystery or thriller experience which I found rather refreshing change but it I still wasn't short-changed the pleasure of reading a very well written drama.
This book is about a New York family, the McClouds. This family is about as dysfunctional as a family can get. The present time in the book is the early 90's. Sheriff Dan McCloud, the father, nine-years before, committed suicide leaving his widow and three children, oldest daughter, Celeste, James, the eldest son and Billy, the baby of the family. The family life of the McClouds is complexly entwined with the family of Dan's best friend, A.J. Derry. Almost incestuously!
I quote from the Booklist review:
'“No secret stays buried forever,” says one character, wielding a knife and summing up the action ignited when the nine-year belief that Sheriff Dan McCloud committed suicide is exploded. His uniformed body is accidentally found, shot twice and shoved into a trunk, which also contains his eldest son James’ class ring. Skeletons tumble from family closets in a small town where everyone seems to knows everyone else’s business as James, the family’s pride, returns home, and the legal investigation ensues. None of this is easy on James’ mom, junkie kid-brother Billy, or sister Celeste, now married to Cold Falls’ current sheriff, Nate, stepson of A. J., Sheriff Dan’s friend and partner. Twists, surprises, and cover-ups abound, as Ford reveals the truth about A. J. and Dan and the complex secrets linking their families, including substance abuse, forgery, rape, illegitimate birth—and yes, murder. The reappearance of A. J.’s daughter, Nancy, James’ high-school flame, brings new shock waves of revelation in Ford’s fast-moving yet thoughtful exploration of family love and the things we do in its name.'
I'm telling you this book has more plot twists and more murder suspects than you can keep up with. Which is really why the book reads like a thriller. I just couldn't put the book down.
Alternating between the book's present (the early 90s) and a retrospective look at the time of the suicide, the author slowly unfolds the complex plot and the "truth" of what happened with these two families. And in trademark Ford fashion he presents an indepth multi-dimensional cast of characters who all have flaws. There are a couple of villains, who are actually portrayed with some objectivity by Ford.
I highly recommend this book....and any of Michael Thomas Ford's books.
If you'd like to purchase the book, just click here. You can see some of the other titles by Mr. Ford as well.
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