Patricia Hale, the author of In the Shadow of Revenge is visiting me today and proposed a tough question this is answered by her heroine, Cecily Minos.
How far would you go for a friend? Would you hand over your last Hershey Kiss, the last chocolate chip cookie, the rose on top of the birthday cake? Would you lie, steal and risk a law career that took six years in academia and thousands of dollars in student loans to complete? What about if you’d already let that friend down once before… in a big way? A way that left you haunted and guilty every time you looked at her, dazed and unforgiving over a bottle of Jack Daniels you might as well have put in her hand yourself.
You can play the tough love card and make the choice hers. Drop your guilt in her lap and tell her to stop playing the victim. And if that works, you might feel absolved. You might pat yourself on the back and ignore the niggling that says you still didn’t truly set things right. The past is still the past.
If you can’t ignore the finger tapping on your shoulder or that raking in your empty stomach then you might have to risk everything. You might have to go back and settle the score once and for all.
So goes the mindset of Cecily Minos’ in, In the Shadow of Revenge, who for last eighteen years has been saddled by the guilt of her best friend’s attack. But at nine-years-old, what could she have done?
Excerpt: In the Shadow of Revenge
We smelled his cigarette as we neared the railcar and slowed to look at each other, each of us thinking the same thing at that moment… turn around. But you never pay attention to that voice inside your head until after whatever’s going to happen happens and then you say, “I knew we shouldn’t have gone in there.”
His back was against the wall, his legs outstretched, his Red Sox baseball cap pulled so low that only his eyes were visible. A kerchief covered his nose and mouth, cowboy style. He smelled like a drunk. I knew that smell at nine years old because it was the same way Hilary’s father always smelled and my mother called him a drunk, though never when Hilary was around.
He shifted a little when we climbed into the car, but didn’t speak. I thought he might be asleep. Hilary nudged the bottom of his boot with the toe of her sneaker. “This is our clubhouse,” she said. “You gotta get out.”
Before any of us could move he reached out and grabbed her ankle. I’d heard of people being swept off their feet, but this was the first and only time I’d seen it done. Hilary’s head slammed down against the metal floor and she was beside him, flat on her back. Then he raised his legs, planted one boot in Amelia’s stomach and one in mine and sent us flying backwards. Amelia landed against the wall. The metal gave a thunderous clap as it yielded to her sixty pounds, her head left a red streak on the rusty surface and she slid to the floor. I landed against the corner of the fireproof trunk that held our matches and candles and Ouija board. I still have the scar on my right side, just beneath my ribs to prove where that trunk broke through my skin. Not that I’ve ever needed proof that that day happened.
Sometimes, we are lucky enough to get a second chance. A second chance at love, a second chance life, a second chance to do the right thing, but nothing comes for free, not even second chances. Sometimes the opportunity to set things right will cost more than doing nothing. And that’s when you have to ask yourself…
What are you willing to risk for a friend? How far would you go to set things right? Would you kill? Be killed? Or take the wrap? What kind of friend are you, anyway?
Everybody thought brilliant Cecily would leave dead-end Miller's Falls for something better. But a two-decades-old tragedy locks her in place. Few understand the fierce bond that Cecily and Amelia share with Hilary, who was assaulted one summer as the two other girls watched helplessly. It's a bond of love and guilt…and a desire for vengeance that cuts clear to the bone.
So Assistant DA Cecily Minos waits, eager to see the guy in her courtroom. When Amelia meets a man who has the tattoo the girls remember seeing that day, they think they've finally caught a break. But the police refuse to reopen the case, and it's up to Cecily and Amelia to pursue their suspect.
Their investigation soon uncovers secrets best left buried. But the law is slow, and they've waited long enough for revenge…
PATRICIA HALE'S BIO:
Patricia Hale is a graduate of the MFA program at Goddard College in Vermont. She is a member of Sister’s in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, NH Writer’s Project and Maine Writer’s and Publisher’s Alliance. Her essays and articles have appeared in New England literary magazines and the anthology, My Heart’s First Steps. When not writing, she enjoys hiking with her dogs and kayaking on the lakes near her home. Patricia lives in New Hampshire with her husband and two German shepherds.
Thank you for visiting me today, Patricia. I loved the questions and your new book sounds positively intriguing.
Marilyn aka F. M. Meredith