This novel of murder and its aftermath in a small Vermont town in the 1950s is “reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird . . . Absorbing” (The New York Times).
In Kingdom County, Vermont, the town’s new Presbyterian minister is a black man, an unsettling fact for some of the locals. When a French-Canadian woman takes refuge in his parsonage—and is subsequently murdered—suspicion immediately falls on the clergyman. While his thirteen-year-old son struggles in the shadow of the town’s accusations, and his older son, a lawyer, fights to defend him, a father finds himself on trial more for who he is than for what he might have done.
“Set in northern Vermont in 1952, Mosher’s tale of racism and murder is powerful, viscerally affecting and totally contemporary in its exposure of deep-seated prejudice and intolerance . . . [A] big, old-fashioned novel.” —Publishers Weekly
“A real mystery in the best and truest sense.”—Lee Smith, The New York Times Book Review
A Winner of the New England Book Award
Set in northern Vermont in 1952, Mosher's ( Disappearances ) tale of racism and murder is powerful, viscerally affecting and totally contemporary in its exposure of deep-seated prejudice and intolerance. In this big, old-fashioned novel, the calm of Kingdom County is shattered when a high-spirited French-Canadian runaway is shot to death, and the black Presbyterian minister in whose home she took refuge is charged with killing her to conceal the alleged fact that he made her pregnant. Narrator Jim Kinneson, a high schooler whose tough dad runs the local newspaper, is almost painfully naive about racism, and the very leisurely pace, combined with the gossipy, small-town flavor, dampens the reader's interest for the first half of the book. But Walt Andrews, the wry, articulate minister, an ex-Olympic athlete and widower, is one of the most believable characters in recent memory, and the courtroom trial, which runs for nearly 100 pages, is highly dramatic. To get Andrews off the hook, Jim's inexperienced lawyer-brother must find the real murderer. A related puzzle, which involves a skeleton in the Kinneson family closet, pulls the loose ends together a bit too neatly. Film rights to United Artists; major ad/promo.