I was incredibly intrigued by Flying Shoes' premise, particularly that it was loosely based off of Lisa Howorth's personal family experience of losing her young brother.
Mary Byrd is living her life as a housewife and mother in Mississippi when she receives a call from her hometown of Richmond, Virginia--a reporter is calling to ask her questions about her stepbrother's unsolved murder. It happened 30 years ago when he was just nine years olf, and the details were horrific. How could it be dredged back up after all this time? Mary Byrd finds herself making plans to head back home to meet with the police; after all this time there has been a break in the case. She leaves behind her own messy life to discover details she isn't sure she entirely wants to hear.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I found myself with a quiet night in this week and it was just what the doctor ordered. It was intriguing enough to keep my focus and make me want to keep reading but not thriller-like so I didn't feel like I had to rush through it. I could just enjoy the story, the characters, and the writing enough to savor it like a warm bowl of soup on a cold winter's night. Only it was a horribly humid night in the middle of a summer rainstorm. It was a nice juxtaposition to the ice storm that grounds most of the characters in this story.
I will freely admit that I originally picked up this book due to the crime angle, but I was the most pleasantly surprised with the Southern literature perspective that Howorth brings to the table. Her descriptions of the Southern way of life are not just spot on; they are explanatory without sounding as though they NEED to be explained. It is seamlessly woven into Mary Byrd's lovely narrative in order for us to better understand her, Charles, her husband, and the relationships she has had with both her own mother and her mother-in-law. Being Southern is a way of life, and Howorth does a great job of explaining not just why this is, but how it is, and she allows her reader to soak it in without feeling patronized.
There was one storyline of which I wasn't terribly fond, but I am overlooking it in favor of how wonderful the rest of the story was. It was less about the gory details of the murder and more about how a person deals with something of the sort when it is long past and it has been attempted to be dealt with. I am thankful that I have never had to deal with anything similar, but I can imagine that this is an honest portrait of dealing with such horror particularly when it comes back up three decades later.
Hard copy for purchase below.