Synopses & Reviews
"Reading about the gruesome death of someone you knew was like accidentally seeing your mother naked; it was too private, but you couldnât take it back."
In January 1948, nine-year-old Philip Wade and his little brother David, move to the small Eastern Oregon town of Baker City where their father, Kenneth Wade, is about to begin his career as a mortician. In the spring, Philip's father hires Jack O'Brien, a local recluse, to help him put on a new roof on their house.
Three weeks later, a local schoolteacher is found beaten to death and Jack O'Brien is accused of her murder. Kenneth Wade is the only person who advocates on O'Brien's behalf fully believing the man to be innocent. Philip is a spellbound spectator and narrator of his father's consuming struggle to save a man he barely knows. Conversely he witnesses his mother, Margaret Wade, demonstrate a quiet determination to keep the specter of violence from distorting the lives of her sons.
Twisted into the father's fixation to wrest Jack O'Brien from custody, is the relentless memory of a boyhood friend who, when wrongly accused of a killing, hung himself in his jail cell. This long ago horror is key to Kenneth Wade's motivation he is caught up in the terrible present because of a past that will not let him go.