Darby Swank, 21 years old, is the unlikely heroine of this tightly written story of family secrets, small town insularity and rural life. In one of the most effective openings to a mystery that I have read in a while, Darby finds the body of her aunt floating in Brightsand Lake in northwestern Saskatchewan.
Sophisticates who read Vogue will know that Saskatchewan and Manitoba are "vaguely exotic" and on a list of places to visit. Lisa Guenther perfectly evokes the environment of Brightsands Lake and the nearby communities of St. Walberg and Turtleford. The murder is central, of course, but there is a forest fire, a cattle round-up and of course, romantic intrigue.
Friendly Fire exposes the horror of family violence and explains why a woman, in this case Darby's aunt, would stay in such a dangerous environment. It explores the heart of the abuser and looks below her Uncle Will's superficial charm to the tortured man who is compelled to strike out.
Wainwright and District Family and Community Services is hosting Ms. Guenther at the Wainwright Public Library for a reading from Friendly Fire. The reading begins a 6:30 PM and goes to 8:00. November is Family Violence Prevention Month and Ms. Guenther's book, although a novel, reveals how violence may be a secret and how this secrecy allows it to escalate until something so tragic as Aunt Bea's murder occurs.
I am an avid reader and like to share some of my "finds" with others.