A welcome twist to the crime novel.
The setting is small town New Hampshire. The secret girlfriend of high school student Jacob Reiser is found dead in the snow and all of the clues point to Jacob.
Before and After is a crime novel with a big twist. Rather than following a policeman or the fleeing criminal, it follows the family of the accused and what they go through. The book's title refers to life before and after the crime and how the seemingly perfect family is ripped apart.
It is told in the first person from the perspectives of mom, dad and sister (interestingly, never from Jacob's point of view). The brother and son they thought they knew is now a stranger.
At times, this book is an emotionally abusive roller coaster, but it would be an interesting read for a discussion group concerning the reactions of the family, especially the father and his criminal acts to cover up evidence and his obsession to help his son.
I'll give this book a 4 stars out of 5 for finding an interesting way to add a welcome twist to the crime novel.
Reviewed on February 11, 2005.