In this electrifying thriller, two women from opposite sides of the country find their lives inextricably bound—by blood, by fear, and by a merciless, murderous revenge . . .
Walking home on a foggy night, Marly Shaw stops in the glare of approaching headlights. Two men step out of a pickup truck. One of them is her stepfather. A sudden, desperate chase erupts in gunshots. Both men are left dead. And a terrified girl is on the run—for the rest of her life . . .
Thirteen years later, human bones discovered in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California are linked to a mother and son from Central New York. Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Detective Vanessa Alba and her partner, Jack Wong, dive into an investigation that lures them deep into the Finger Lakes. They find a community silenced by the brutal grip of a powerful family bound by a twisted sense of blood and honor, whose dark secrets still haunt the one family member who thought she got away . . .
“Held me captive from the first page to the last. Vivid settings and strength of character kept me reading late, late into the night, to an ending I never expected.” —Taylor Stevens, New York Times bestselling author of The Informationist
“Bickford's tale of revenge, the dark reach and power of generational crime and violence, and of two brave and bright girls who become capable, fearless women is gripping, chilling, and original. Add in a keen, exacting eye for character and place that transcends ‘genre’ and A Short Time to Die is sure to stay with you for a long, long time.” — Eric Rickstad, New York Times bestselling author of The Silent Girls and Lie in Wait
In the gripping opening chapter of Bickford's uneven debut, teen Marly Shaw is on the run in the woods outside Charon Springs, N.Y., one fall night in 2000. Her stepfather, Del Harris, and his father, Zeke, are chasing her with guns. Fortunately for Marly, the truck that Del and Zeke are driving winds up at the bottom of a ravine. Both men are dead. Flash forward to 2013 and the discovery of two disarticulated skeletons in Santa Clara, Calif. DNA testing identifies the bones as those of Louise Rasmussen and her son, Troy Rasmussen, who were known as Louise Harris and Troy Harris in Charon Springs. Two Santa Clara County detectives travel to the small town, where interviews with cops and surviving members of the Harris clan, for generations a "sort of rural mafia," reveal details about their criminal activities, including killings. Flashbacks chart Marly's friendship with Elaine Fardig, a high school student whom Louise and Troy assaulted, and the girls' escape from Charon Springs, but the frequent narrative shifts reduce the story's momentum.