I have been a fan of Joyce Maynard’s for years. While she is a household name --- and I try to reserve Bets On selections for less-known writers --- I am selecting AFTER HER as a Bets On selection as my homage to Maynard. This novel is loosely inspired by the Trailside Killer case that terrorized the people of Marin County, California, in the late 1970s. In the summer of 1979, Rachel and her younger sister, Patty, are having an idyllic summer as they play on the mountains behind their home --- the same mountains where their detective father is hunting for a killer. What begins as one act of violence quickly escalates to the markings of a serial killer. Pressure escalates on their dad as no one can get any solid leads on the culprit.
Their home already is fraught with tension as their parents are separated; their dad’s wandering eye has broken their mother’s heart. The girls are adrift with a hero dad whose career is unraveling and a mom who ignores them and cannot care for them.
Rachel gets an idea that she thinks will save her dad’s career and bring him back to their mother, but the plan terribly backfires. And from there, their father’s career --- and life ---unravels.
Maynard writes great characters and crafts a story that will not let you go. I can’t say enough good things about the ending, which is NOT what I pictured happening!