Cradle Crow: S.L. Schultz
Someone decided to end the life of Jeanine Becker 21 year ago. The killer is still out there and will not rest until this person is behind bars for good. But, the police have closed the investigation but will the person in charge revisit the evidence, the crime scene and open the case to give Jeanine the justice she deserves? Many people would rather be their own judge and jury and take matters into their own hands regardless of the consequences. The book opens with Jeff Tillman’s return to Willis and reconnecting with Jack the brother of James. Returning with a purpose to take matters into his own hands and confront the person he believes to be the killer. But, as you get to know him you will realize that there is much more he plans. Brenda and Billy have been married on and off for many years and now they are mourning the anniversary of her death. Martin her husband wants closure and the chain of events that the author crafted and created leads back to the past as refocus on the present. Martin might mourn her death but the author shares moments of torment, anger and abuse inflicted on many others. The torments, anguish and abuse he took at the hand of his father led him to runaway and learning about his death and his dying plays heavily on Martin’s mind. Brenda works in a center for abused and battered women and Lola is married seeks solace from her abused husband. Jimmy a young child is plagued with mixed feelings about his stepfather Jack and learning to the difference between right and wrong and facing the consequences. Meet Lily Rose a 16 year old girl just wanting to have fun with her friends and of course a boy named Lucas. Planning what to wear to a party her parents have agreed to let her attend the end result might change it all for her too.
As you get to know Brenda you realize that she is still traumatized over her mother’s death as she enters to woods or forest and tries to appreciate the beauty of it all. But, Jeff Tillman has returned to find an old friend and begins his journey to different bars to find this man thinking he needs to pay for a crime he committed. Is he the killer? Jeff and this man have a past that is shared with readers learning that Jeff did many things that were wrong, joined gang type groups and even a group resembling the KKK and finally got straighten out and a job. But, hardened he is and looking for retribution seems to be only the beginning as we get to hear his voice louder. One death has caused much friction and Martin Becker the coach that Tillman still despises might be on his list of those to deal with in his way.
Back-stories are presented to allow readers to get to know Jimmy when he is about to go out to dinner with his mother and Jack and wonders about his real father. Thinking about him he asks if everyone on his father’s side is bad. Jack, Jeff and his father he wonders what they were like before going to prison. Seeing his mother looking red eyed when she goes to the car to leave for dinner makes him wonder why she is so sad and he reflects back to his childhood. Debra is a flirt and his grandmother has her own opinion of her as we get to know her better and realize that she is not what she appears to be either.
Billy and Martin meet with the Detective named Holder who was in charge of Martin’s wife’s murder case and wants it reopened. Brenda goes to the site of the murder and prays that the killer gets caught and hopes that someday she won’t be afraid of the dark and the forest. Each character at times lost in their own thoughts as Jeff is still searching for the man he thinks is the killer and Jack seems to be hiding secrets himself. Stating to Holder that they feel that the killer might kill again and did he cross reference any other murders but will he agree to revisit his wife’s murder now that Martin agrees to it. Billy thinks hard and after leaving him he too comes up with the name.
Dinner proves uncomfortable for both Debra and Brenda as Debra sizes up the other woman and the men go about drinking tons of liquor as Debra realizes that she is out of league in many respects. Brenda is listening to the conversation and at times tunes it out as if she is rethinking to herself why Jeff looks like her late husband and his late brother James. Feelings immerse within her and she needs to start focusing on Billy and the conversation as it centers around opening the murder case to find her mother’s killer and each one has his/her own perspective on it and who might be the killer while Christopher her son and Debra’s son Jimmy play on their game boys seeming oblivious to the world and the thoughts of the grownups.
Things spiral out of control when Lily Rose and Kristen attend a party, smoke joints and feel sick. But, both Lucas and Mark do not really show the girls any respect and when Lily Rose realizes she is late and might break curfew Lucas refuses to drive the girls home leaving them vulnerable for what happens next. Hitching is dangerous and when someone the end result leaves them picks them up traumatized, battered and severely bruises until someone finds them and takes them to the hospital. Each character flashes back to incidents from his/her past as we hear Lily recreating the nightmare and then revisiting it in her own mind the way she wants it to turn out. We listen to the killer revisit his past and the cruelties he endured and the confessions he made as his father taught him to fight and defend himself. But, the lessons might have helped but the end result would be tragic for others, as he became a deranged psychopathic killer and abuser. Freedom is something that everyone wants and when this man comes back to town revenge is what he seeks as his days of freedom might be numbered but are they? Each person involved with him speaks out against him and his misdeeds. Others beat him to hold him for the police. But, the killer is crafty, smart and convinces the police even though the lead detective knows he’s a liar that they can’t hold him but why?
Brenda relieves her teen years as she remembers her mother’s murder, her reaction and her father’s drinking binge. As Lily deals with her ordeal and appears to need more help than she is being given, the author describes her face as split in two like a split mask: One side so sweet and pretty and the other side stained with otherworldly colors, that psychedelic world where evil exists gut does not conquer. Will she ever be normal again? What happens when they learn the harsh facts about what happened with the killer? Jeff Tillman relives his past, finds someone he needs to rekindle with but will he remain dry, sober or will he falter as the author leaves us wondering what’s next for these characters as a package is delivered and a note is sent and a symbol to remind them of that fateful night. Lies, fear, hate, revenge, betrayals and deceits within all of the characters as the final ending will leave you wondering what is the real definition of justice? Was it served? Crow meaning conveys that Crow has the ability to see and open portals to many dimensions and lifetimes. The caw of the crow and tuning into the sound of her caw or call can lead you to certain portals that are not in plain sight. As the characters listen for the sound of the caw, reliving the burning mysteries of their pasts, you will be able to answer the questions have rested dormant within you. The crow is calling to all of those within the pages of this book that the time of change is here and now and it’s time to live life, let go of your old self, let go of all things holding you back from life, love and freedom and step into your true power. The sound of the crow brings fear, changes of life and death as you stare into its dark eyes and dark body the crow is often the omen of death. A heart wrenching novel dealing with abuse, hate, revenge, murder, lies, deceptions, fear, retribution and a people that needed to understand the definition of right, wrong, morals and justice. One novel that will leave you wondering about life in general and what is often handed to you and what is often left unsaid.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine