A Best Book of 2011

4 Dec

One of the best mystery novels I read this year. This reviews appeared in Suspense Magazine.

If Thy Right Hand by Robin Lamont

     Ilene Hart is the Chief of Special Prosecutions in the DA’s office, specializing in the prosecution of pedophiles. When a teenage boy she has recently prosecuted is found shot to death, she begins to make connections with suspicious deaths of other sex offenders.

     As a single mother with two sons – one an autistic nineteen year old and the other a rambunctious eleven year old, she struggles to balance the demands of family and career. Then her older son is accused of molesting two young boys at an elementary school where he is working on the computer system.

     At the same time, parents are up in arms over the presence of a rehabilitation facility for young, low risk, convicted sex offenders that has opened in the community. Their protests take on the character of a witch hunt as several parents with fanatical religious beliefs incite the others against Ilene and her son.

     The novel explores the difficulties of a single mother with a demanding career and her relationship with the Chief of Police, a relationship made more difficult by the accusations against her son. Her two sons, one autistic and one “normal,” who have always been close, also struggle to define their relationship when the older is accused of deplorable acts.

     Author Robin Lamont has created characters who struggle with their own inner demons and try to come to terms with what is “normal” for any individual. The tendency for a parent to protect his or her child at all costs often conflicts with the rights of the community at large, and only when the truth is revealed, do we learn the source of the evil.

     Lamont has treated a painful and difficult subject within the context of an enthralling mystery. If Thy Right Hand is a superb first novel. Lamont has created a seamless murder mystery that also serves to educate the reader about  autism, a condition afflicting many children today.

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