The disappearance of an attractive young woman plunges a small Texas town into a frenzy of paranoia and recrimination.
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The disappearance of an attractive young woman plunges a small Texas town into a frenzy of paranoia and recrimination. With each day Ester remains missing, the accusations and rumors grow wilder and more outrageous. Assistant DA Diane Marshall and her husband, Deputy Max Konstantin, investigate the usual leads, including the unorthodox tenets of Ester's conservative Christian sect and her father’s peculiar business dealings. Mounting forensic evidence and a chilling eyewitness account suggest that Ester is the victim of abduction and satanic ritual murder. When the witness names the deputy sheriff as the murderer, the townspeople reach the brink of hysteria. The labyrinthine plot of this singular crime drama probes themes of faith and prayer, forensic investigation, moral panic, mass delusion, and false memory.
The withering things come out at night. Sunflowers droop. Birds hide their heads, except owls, but owls are an ill omen. The black dogs of depression snuffle and savage anyone they find alone.
Ester James is out there in the dark somewhere, while Diane and Max tuck their teenagers in bed, while Pastor Daniel and his wife sleep, while P.J. drinks a spiked cocktail at an upperclassmen party that she isn’t cool enough to attend and tries to cover this by expressing sophisticated and tragic ennui, and while Zeke clutches a pillow on the couch where he has collapsed, exhausted, because he cannot bring himself to lie down in his own bed, because normalcy is acquiescence.
On the ten o’clock news, more people were murdered by strangers and those who were supposed to love them. More businessmen cheated the people who trusted them. More politicians lied about campaign-donated money or campaign-damaging sex.
New Canaan feels the change. The foggy unknown has reached into their quiet town and taken one of them. It slides under doors and steals the light from the eyes of their friends. Everyone seems dull with anger, ready to snap.