“A little over thirty years ago, on a June day just before sunset – alone on a mountain In Marin County, California – a man came toward me with a length of piano wire stretched between his hands and the intention of ending my days. I was fourteen years old, and many others had already died at his hands. Ever since then, I have known what it is to look into a man’s eyes and believe his face is the last thing you will ever see.
I have my sister to thank that I am here to tell what happened that day. Two times, it was my sister who saved me, though I was not able to do the same for my sister.
This is our story.”
Wow – what a fantastic opening!! This opening of After Her by Joyce Maynard instantly drew me into the novel. I read through this novel in record speed and was entranced. Rachel and her sister Patty are the closest of sisters growing up in the 1970’s. Their beloved father left them and their mother for another woman. Their mother was never really able to cope after that and immersed herself in her books and basically left the girls to raise themselves.
In the summer of 1979, the girls are riveted by the story of the sunset strangler, a killer of women that is lurking in the mountains right behind their Marin County California home. Their father is the lead detective on the case and they suddenly find they have notoriety at school. When their father has trouble catching the killer, the two girls decide to help him on the case, thereby putting themselves in harms away.
The ending of this book took a quite different direction than I thought. The book was wonderfully written, but the ending seemed rather loose. This could be because the beginning of the book sets you up for one type of ending, but you get a different ending and I felt slightly cheated. This aside, I loved the mystery and suspense of the novel, but I also loved the story of the two sisters. I had a sister two years younger than myself and we grew up playing in the woods behind our home. It was the 1980’s rather than the 1970’s, but I could relate to much of the novel. Maynard revels in the freedom the two girls have and points out how it is better than today when children are so closely monitored. On one hand, I agree, but on the other hand, I admit I felt bad for the girls that they had no parent that watched their activities and cared at all. I don’t think that is a great childhood either.
Overall, even though the ending wasn’t what I expected, I loved the great writing, characters, and suspenseful story. I also enjoyed The Good Daughters by Maynard, she is a wonderful author.
Book Source: Advance Review Copy from William Morrow. Thank-you!