Title: Lacy Eye by Jessica Treadway
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Mystery
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
A haunting, evocative novel about a woman who might have to face the disturbing truth about her own daughter.
Hanna and Joe send their awkward daughter Dawn off to college hoping that she will finally “come into her own.” When she brings her new boyfriend, Rud, to her sister’s wedding, her parents try to suppress their troubling impressions of him for Dawn’s sake. Not long after, Hanna and Joe suffer a savage attack at home, resulting in Joe’s death and Hanna’s severe injury and memory loss.
Rud is convicted of the crime, and the community speculates that Dawn may also have been involved. When Rud wins an appeal and Dawn returns to live in the family home, Hanna resolves to recall that traumatic night so she can testify in the retrial, exonerate her daughter, and keep her husband’s murderer in jail.
But as those memories resurface, Hanna faces the question of whether she knows her own daughter-and whether she ever did.
Lacy Eye by Jessica Treadway is an intriguing and thought-provoking novel that is also rather heartbreaking. Loosely based on a real-life crime, this tightly plotted novel is a suspenseful mystery about a family whose lives have been torn apart by a vicious attack that left Hanna Schutt permanently disfigured and her husband, Joe dead. Also deeply affected by the tragedy are the couples’ adult daughters, Iris and Dawn. Three years after the bludgeoning, Iris continues to struggle with depression while Dawn cannot escape the cloud of suspicion that has plagued her since her boyfriend Rud Petty’s arrest and subsequent conviction of the horrific crime. Hanna has always adamantly believed Dawn’s assertion Rud acted alone, but with no recollection of the crime, how certain can she be of her daughter’s innocence?
On the surface, the Schutt family appears to be the typical suburban family. Joe is a hardworking CPA who is incredibly organized and very comfortable in his skin. Hanna is a dedicated wife and mom who defers to Joe on most issues. Oldest daughter Iris is beautiful, smart, talented and popular. Youngest daughter Dawn struggles to fit in as she contends with bullies who make fun of her because of an eye condition. Of course Joe and Hanna are concerned about Dawn but they are hoping now she is in college, she will finally “come into her own”. At first, it appears their prayers have been answered as she forms a close friendship with her college roommate and she begins dating Rud.
But when Dawn brings Rud home to meet the family, they become suspicious of Rud and his reasons for dating their daughter. A confrontation between the four during a holiday visit occurs just hours before the horrific attack on Joe and Hanna, and the police quickly zero in on Rud and Dawn as their prime suspects. Without enough evidence to indict Dawn, the district attorney charges Rud and although most of the evidence against him is circumstantial, he is convicted of the crimes. After Rud wins an appeal three years after his conviction, the pressure is on Hanna to testify in the upcoming trial, but she truly has no memory of the attack.
Hanna’s blind faith in Dawn begins to falter as she reminisces about her daughter’s difficult childhood. Has she overlooked key aspects of Dawn’s personality that could indicate serious psychological problems? Were she and Joe too quick to dismiss teacher’s concerns about Dawn over the years? Is Hanna somehow responsible for Dawn’s ongoing issues? When Dawn returns home after a long absence, Hanna is forced to admit that everything might not be quite right with her daughter, but does that mean Dawn is capable of murder?
Written in first person from Hanna’s perspective, Lacy Eye is a contemplative story with quite a few twists and turns. This mesmerizing character study is quite compelling despite its sometimes dark and disturbing subject matter. It is an exceptionally well-written and fascinating mystery that Jessica Treadway brings to an stunning and absolutely chilling conclusion.