Sometimes a first novel is born from an author’s prior background, reflecting authenticity and deep understanding. Such is the case in this debut novel with a plot more complicated but more meaningful than a simple plot summary can convey. In its utter simplicity, the novel traces the ramifications of a decision taken by four 15-year-old boys, 30 years after the fact.
The book centers on Hutch Van Buren who seems a shoo-in to be elected Ohio’s next Attorney General, leading in the polls by about 18 percentage points. Until, that is, it comes to the surface that he and three friends covered up the murder of a retarded youth, allowing a pedophile to be convicted of the crime. After his release from prison, the convict threatens to expose Hutch unless he quashes another charge of molestation.
The novel delves deeply into the psychological impact on Hutch, and looks into various other issues, including corruption, bribery, and the criminal mind. It tests the limits of friendship, and weighs heavily in on the question of whether truth and justice should prevail. This is a worthy book, especially so coming from a first-time novelist, and we hope there is another forthcoming.
Reviewed by Ted Feit