Yesterday, I kissed my husband for the last time.
Sometimes you pick up a book and the first line is absolute perfection. A line that is a hook that sinks in deep and refuses to let go. And that is exactly what happened when I settled down with Inga Vesper’s The Long, Long Afternoon published 4th February, by Bonnier Books.
It’s 1959, in the serene , immaculate suburb of Sunnylakes. Amongst the swimming pools, sprinklers and Sunday gatherings, a tragedy is brewing. Quietly and without warning Joyce Haney, model housewife and mother, vanishes without a trace. Her two frightened children are discovered by the black maid, Ruby. The girls are alone, blood is smeared across the modern, perfect kitchen and brand new baby clothes lie abandoned on the floor.
It is up to Detective Mick Blanke, an ex – NYC cop, to try and peel away the layers of perfection that surround this case and find out the truth that lurks beneath. Escaping his own gremlins , Mick sees this case as a way of atoning for past mistakes and is determined to get this case right.
But this case is anything but straightforward and it is quickly apparent that nothing and no one are what they first appear to be. And Mick is going to need whatever help he can get, however unconventional that maybe.
In Ruby, Mick recognises an intelligence and determination that belies the prejudice and horror she faces on a daily basis. Befriended and championed as she was by Joyce Haney, Ruby is desperate to find out the truth and is persuaded, at great personal risk to help the Detective put the pieces of this grisly jigsaw together.
Aided by Ruby’s unique insight into the homes of Sunnylakes Detective Mick Blanke examines the cast of characters that surround this case and probes deeper, asking questions and turning stones.
How devoted is Frank Haney to his missing wife? What exactly do the women discuss at Genevieve Crane’s Women’s Improvement Meetings? Why had Joyce befriended young Deena Klintz, so obviously from the wrong side of the tracks? Which of these perfect friends and neighbours really understand Joyce? And who is the mysterious Jimmy that has suddenly reappeared in her life?
This novel is populated by a cast of colourful and shifting characters, whose motives and emotions dance like fireflies before your eyes. There is a vibrancy to the dialogue, to the plotting and the atmosphere that makes this story impossible to leave. The telling of this tale is so authentic and evocative of the period and there is more than just the complex story of Joyce Haney evolving here.
This is web of stories; stories of the forgotten voices, of the past we try to out run, the prejudices we try to ignore, the facades we create and the lies we tell ourselves in order to move forward.
It is also the story of the people who dare to look behind the facade and to challenge the norm, to address the prejudice and to push the boundaries, even if that might bring the whole house of cards crashing down.
This books burst with life, emotion and most of all humanity. Thank you Tracy Fenton for my blog tour invite. This one was an absolute joy!
And there is more…
For other reviews and reactions, check out the rest of the blog tour below…