By Michael Hiebert
Kensington BooksJune 2013

Trade Paperback304 pages, $15.00, ISBN: 9780758285751
Subject: Women's Lives / Mystery / Intrigue

  1. How would you describe the point of view that the prologue is written from? Contrast it to the rest of the book. Why do you think the author chose to write it this way?
  2. Describe Abe’s relationship with his mother. Contrast this with his relationship to his sister, Carry, especially at the beginning of the book.
  3. Do you feel Leah treats Caroline differently from how she treats Abe? If so, how? How much of this difference do you think comes from Leah’s own past and how much stems from Carry’s newly found insolence?
  4. When the boys go hunting for Mary Ann Dailey, they wind up in the woods with Mr. Garner. He tells them about Ruby Mae Vickers disappearing twelve years ago. He even goes so far as to say, “Oh, she turned up, eventually. Just not in the same state she disappeared in.” Do you think this is an inappropriate conversation for him to have with eleven-year-old Abe and Dewey?
  5. Other than telling the boys he put them there, Mr. Garner doesn’t say much else about those fresh flowers the boys see scattered around the base of the willow where Ruby Mae Vickers’s body was found. Why do you think this is? Why do you think Mr. Garner continues to put flowers around that tree?
  6. Once Mary Ann Dailey hasn’t shown up for several days, Leah gets paranoid for her own children’s safety, to the point of not letting Abe walk with Dewey to school or allowing Caroline to walk to the bus stop. Do you think her paranoia is ungrounded, or is she acting in a rational way? How much of it is coming from her being a police officer?
  7. Where do you think Abe’s constant racial statements and slurs ultimately stem from? Is he being influenced by someone or something external, or is it simply a case of innocent ignorance?
  8. After Abe hears Carry crawl out of her window a few nights following the discussion he had with her in her room, he goes directly to his mother and tattles on her. Leah immediately tells Abe to put on his coat, saying they are going out to look for her. Uncle Henry starts questioning why Abe’s coming along, but Leah cuts him off and tells him, “Because I’m his goddamn mother, and I say he’s coming, that’s why.” Why do you think Abe tattles on his sister? Why do you think Leah takes Abe with her to look for Caroline?
  9. Abe’s mother readily admits she doesn’t like talking about Abe’s pa, who died when Abe was two years old. She also rarely talks about Abe’s dead grandma and grandpa. Why do you think Leah seems to have such a problem dealing with death? Do you think the problem she has with the death of her ex-husband, Billy, is the same as the problem she has with the death of her folks?
  10. After solving the case, Leah takes Abe up to Cornflower Lake, where she tells him she “has to get rid of something.” Carefully, she lifts the Virgin Mother from her neck. Throughout the book, Leah’s played with this necklace at various times. When Abe asks her what she’s going to do with it, she tells him she doesn’t need it anymore and tosses it into the lake. Why does Leah do this? What is the necklace symbolic of? What part of her has been “repaired” through solving this case that’s allowed her to let go of this necklace? What event had left that part in need of repairing up until now?