Middling historian Lucas Paige visits St. Louis to give a sparsely attended reading nothing out of the ordinary. Except among the yawning attendees is someone he did not expect: Lola Faye Gilroy, the "other woman" he has long blamed for his father’s murder decades earlier.
Reluctantly, Luke joins Lola Faye for a drink. As one drink turns into several, these two battered souls relive, from their different perspectives, the most searing experience of their lives. Slowly but surely, the hotel bar dissolves around them and they are transported back to the tiny southern town where this defining moment a violent crime of passion—is turned in the light once more to reveal flaws in the old answers. As it turns out, there is much Luke doesn’t know. And what he doesn’t know can hurt him.
Trapped in an increasingly intense emotional exchange, and with no place to go save back into his own dark past, Luke struggles to gain control of an ever more threatening conversation, to discover why Lola Faye has come and what she is after before it is too late.
A taut literary thriller in the gothic tradition of Master of the Delta.
"In this tightly coiled, intellectual drama, Cook ("The Chatham School Affair") unwinds a marvelously tense story of belated redemption. While in St. Louis for a book tour, Luke Paige, a middle-aged writer of lackluster histories, agrees to meet with a long-forgotten acquaintance, the "little hayseed tramp" he believes triggered a bloody tragedy that befell his family decades earlier. The story alternates between Luke's recollections of his hometown; the "heady ambition" of the despicably cruel, contemptuous younger Luke, who wants to go to Harvard and gets swept up "in the lethal tide of [his] own grand dream"; and the numb, disillusioned academic who sits down for a drink with Lola Faye Gilroy. A vertiginous precipice eventually materializes in front of Luke, who must finally confront the true nature of his fathera (TM)s heinous murder and its equally tragic aftermath. The younger Luke is without a doubt one of the more convincing modern villains, a single-minded overachiever devoured by raging oedipal loathing and equally consumed by narcissistic ambition."--Publishers Weekly, STARRED