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Dead Center

1 rating: 4.0
A book by Joanna Higgins

In Higgins's sharply probing novel, her first since A Soldier's Book (1998), Laura Weber and her sister, Lin, grow up knowing that their father, Pete Hyland, died in a hunting accident when they were quite young. Their mother, Karen, later married Dr. … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Joanna Higgins
Publisher: Permanent Press
1 review about Dead Center

Excellent literary mystery

  • Jan 12, 2011
Rating:
+4

What if the perfect father were suddenly accused of murder? What if he were led away in handcuffs from his place of work, his picture in all the papers, friends as shocked as family, life in ruins, and all because of some long-gone tragedy?
Joanna Higgins has readers hooked right from the start in her novel Dead Center. Opening with a death that took place some twenty years ago, she moves forward to a busy pediatrician’s office, to a kind man caring for a child, and to a world that ought to be falling apart but seems oddly held together in the confident calm of the accused.
Would a family drop everything and rush to offer support, or would a daughter stop and wonder, revisiting old memories through new eyes? Would hidden hurts be beaten down under the needs of the moment, or would they rise, seeking comfort and finding suspicion? The characters in Dead Center provide enthralling answers to these questions. Each is convincingly drawn with just the right amount of drama in past and present. Each brings a singular perspective, a different willing suspension of belief or suspicion, and a separate past. Even sisters have seen their adoptive father through different eyes. But the whole creates a family, past present and future, father mother and child, all tied together with memories and care.
Somehow, despite the topic, despite even the fact that it’s inspired by an actual case, Dead Center isn’t a novel of the world falling apart, or of dysfunctional families airing grievances. Instead it’s a tale of the wounded pulling together, the broken seeking truth and love, finding both in equal measure; it’s a story that places people and relationships in the center, where they belong, creating a gravitational force of family that holds its own stability through the storm.
I was hooked to the final pages, not like a voyeur observing an awful accident, but rather like an eager witness, or even a daughter, seeking love and truth in equal measure and finding both. Dead Center is an impressive novel, and a provocative, powerful tale.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

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