Jackson Workman Pickens, or “Work” is a 35-year-old lawyer who isn’t really happy with his career, but keeps the father and son practice going because of his father, Ezra. Ezra, a successful and rich lawyer, disappeared eighteen months before, right after Work’s mother died in a horrible accident.
As the story opens, Ezra’s body has just been found in a storeroom of a deserted mall, and Work is the prime suspect, since he stood to inherit fifteen million dollars. Work thinks his sister Jean, unbalanced and suicidal, must have committed the crime, but he is willing to take the rap for her if necessary, so he is withholding his alibi. The police are closing in on him, and almost everyone he thought was a friend has deserted him.
He has no solace from his marriage, since his wife Barbara is not really the one he loves. He feels he can’t be with the woman he does love – Vanessa, because of a secret from his past. He is frustrated, bitter, and despondent. In every aspect of his life, he is living a lie. It looks as if there is no way out for him, and his struggle to find one forms the bulk of the story.
Discussion: I like John Hart’s work a lot. Having read three of his books, I will say that he thinks very differently than I do. I identify it as “maleness” but I’m not sure if that characterization is precise. Whatever it is, I love getting a look at different ways of perceiving the world, especially by men (who still seem very alien to me after all these years of knowing them) and especially with respect to relations with the opposite sex.
Published by Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, 2006