The effect of a murder on an entire family and the lifelong effect it will have on 12 year old Harriet forms the main part of the story. The story set in the American South is very vivid in its portrayal of Southern ladies who live upto their imagery of being either delicate ladies or stalwart ones and Harriet sets out on a journey of trying to solve her brother's murder. Once she has decided who is the murderer she is very focussed on bringing justice to her family.
Set during one summer Harriet faces so much of misunderstandings, specially from her own family. Her mother completely unhinged by the murder of her son, has never really recovered and lives in a fog of her own. Her aunts try to cope, trying to maintain a facade of normality over their lives but put up a wall of resistance whenever the topic of the murder comes up. For Harriet herself I was just wishing she would put her dead brother aside and just get on with her 12 year old life. You felt for her, you felt the danger she was putting herself into when she dabbled in things much too dark and deep for a 12 year old.
It is the suspense in this novel which was tough to deal with. I was relived at the end of the book - relieved the book was over and I could delegate Harriet to a corner of my mind. Hely her best friend creates a nice balance for Harriet - a very normal, boisterous 12 year old boy who brings so much normality to the plot.
This book comes after a ten year hiatus so lets hope we do not have to wait that long for the third book.