From the New York Times bestselling author of the V.I. Warshawski series comes “a gripping contemporary novel…of fear and conflict in heartland America” (Publishers Weekly).
In Kansas, on land that once saw some of America’s bloodiest antislavery battles, three families have coexisted for more than one hundred fifty years: the Grelliers, the Fremantles, and the Schapens. Once allies in the fight against slavery, today the Schapens and the Grelliers disagree on every subject, from organic farming to the war in Iraq, but above all on religion.
Into their lives comes Gina Haring, a relative of the Fremantles who is house-sitting the derelict family mansion while she puts her own life in order. Her lifestyle and beliefs will put her at odds with her neighbors...and test the mettle of a community being swept up in events beyond its control.
Bestseller Paretsky, who has tackled weighty issues in her V.I. Warshawski detective series (e.g., the Holocaust in Total Recall), weaves a gripping contemporary novel around three farm families the Grelliers, Fremantles and Schapens that can trace their Kaw Valley, Kans., roots back to the 1850s, a time of violent clashes between antislavery and proslavery forces in "Bleeding Kansas." Their shared history is no buffer against the storm of changes that begin with the arrival of Gina Haring, a lesbian Wiccan. Chip Grellier, after being expelled from high school, enlists in the army and is killed in Iraq with devastating effects on his family. The Schapens' fundamentalist doctrines come to the fore when they discover "a perfect red heifer" in their dairy herd that may be a path to riches as well as to the second coming. Meanwhile, Gina stirs prejudices and passions to a fever pitch. Paretsky taps a different vein and strikes gold in this timely tale of fear and conflict in heartland America. Author tour.