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A Crime in the Neighborhoodby Suzanne Berne
Synopses & Reviews
In the summer of 1972, in a suburb of Washington, D.C., the body of a twelve-year-old boy was found near a shopping mall. He had been sexually molested and then murdered. The worst crime came later. Marsha Eberhardt was ten years old at the time of the murder. The story of how she reacted is as disturbing as the murder itself. As the adult Marsha looks back on that summer and recounts the events, she sees herself as an almost fanatically vigilant little girl edging as close as possible to every disturbance. There were all kinds of disturbances - the murder, the break-in at the Watergate that Walter Cronkite kept talking about, Marsha's own family's upheaval. Her father had deserted her. Her teenaged siblings were shoplifting. Her mother was flirting with the new neighbor next door. When the summer dragged on and on without the police solving the murder, Marsha felt compelled to put the "evidence" she'd been collecting to use. How do crimes that we witness or commit as children continue to haunt us years later? Can we ever escape the wrongs we've done, or the wrongs done to us? Marsha Eberhardt, a child of the seventies - of the first generation to grow up believing there's no such thing as "good" government, "safe" neighborhoods, or "stable" families - finds herself turning this question over and over in her mind.
A New York Times Notable Book. Set in the Washington, D.C., suburbs during the summer of the Watergate break-ins, Berne's assured, skillful first novel is about what can happen when a child's accusation is the only lead in a case of sexual assault and murder. A BOOK -OF-THE-MONTH CLUB and QUALITY PAPERBACK BOOK CLUB selection.
In 1973, it seemed to ten-year-old Marsha that everyone was committing crimes — her father and Aunt Ada were committing adultery; her teenage brother and sister were smoking and shoplifting; her mother was flirting with the new next-door neighbor, Mr. Green. Even the President of the United States was acting like a crook. When the body of a neighbor boy is found in the woods just behind the shopping mall, Marsha becomes suspicious of Mr. Green and of the strangeness of his being a single man in a neighborhood of families.
Set in the Washington, D.C., suburbs during the summer of the Watergate break-ins, Berne's assured, skillful first novel is about what can happen when a child's accusation is the only lead in a case of sexual assault and murder.
About the Author
Suzanne Berne lives with her husband and their two daughters outside Boston and currently teaches in Havard University's English department. She has published fiction and essays in numerous magazines and been a frequent contributor to the New York Times. Her first novel, A Crime in the Neighborhoodwon Great Britian's Orange Prize and was also a New York TimesNotable Book, as well as a finalist for both the Los Angeles Timesand the Edgar Allan Poe first fiction awards.
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