A Homicide in Hooker’s Point
by Gloria Taylor Weinberg

"Something monstrous is chasing him through a thick wood. He can hear its heavy footsteps crash through the brush and draw close…. He tries to call for help but cannot make a sound."

Rena May Bayle is a wife and mother living in Clewiston, Florida, with her husband, Frank, and daughter, Vicki. Life has become unsettled as of late due to the actions of the Bayles’ mercurial friend and neighbor, Eric Magruder. Eric’s personality can reverse, mostly when he’s influenced by alcohol. Recently, Eric has been lashing out at his wife and children, and he also killed Vicki’s cat. Vicki is a young and precocious child, still adjusting to the unfairness that the world offers from time to time. Highly intelligent, her good-natured side matches her book smarts. She is furious at Eric’s actions yet worries about him too. The heat is rising in Clewiston, and as the temperatures go, so do the tempers. Malice is in the air, and bodies are bound to fall.

This book is compelling fiction at its finest. The author doesn’t mince words in hinting at the violence that is to come. The shock at the death of innocent kittens wears off only to give way to a beating here and there, one justified and the other unwarranted. The innocence of youth is seen through the eyes of young Vicki and contrasted with the cynical worldview of hardworking brutes such as Frank Bayle and Eric Magruder. The world consists of black and white, never gray. The author has written a moving and probing view of life in the rural South, where the racial lines were drawn, children feared but loved their parents, and fairness never seemed to factor into those equations, at least in the 1950s.

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