Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Mystery Book Review: The Abortionist's Daughter by Elisabeth Hyde

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has published its review of The Abortionist's Daughter by Elisabeth Hyde on its website. For our blog readers, it is reprinted here in its entirety.

The Abortionist's Daughter by Elisabeth HydeSynopsis (from the publisher): Two weeks before Christmas, Diana Duprey, an outspoken abortion doctor, is found floating in her pool, a bruise the size of a golf ball visible through her dark curls. A national figure, Diana inspired passion and ignited tempers, never more so than on the day of her death.

Her husband, Frank, an attorney in the D.A.’s office for more than twenty years, had fought bitterly with her on the day of her murder. Yet to reveal the nature of their fight would cost him not only his career but something greater still—a relationship he will go to any lengths to protect. Diana’s daughter, Megan, a college freshman, had also quarreled with Diana that day, and her role in her mother’s murder will prove more significant than she ever could have anticipated. The Reverend Stephen O’Connell, founder of the town’s pro-life coalition, obviously had issues with Diana, but his anger extended beyond the political to the personal—namely, Dr. Duprey’s involvement with his own troubled teenager. Meanwhile, the detective on the case grapples to make sense of it all. His investigation implicates many in this town and reveals a series of gross miscalculations, each one challenging what we know, or think we know, about community, fidelity, justice, and love.

Review: "... some people had the power to dig themselves into the very deepest part of your brain and stay there until you paid them the attention they demanded."

This passage, from Elisabeth Hyde's stellar mystery The Abortionist's Daughter, a complex character study of people brought together by the murder of Diana Duprey, an abortion provider for a small town outside Denver, can be applied to most of the people in the book and is one of the reasons this is such an intriguing story. As the police investigate the murder, the relationships Diana had with her family and associates are carefully disclosed in a way that adds credibility to the plot and depth to the characters. The conclusion, though not unexpected, is nonetheless startling and dramatically revealed.

The title is something of a misnomer, and unfortunately tends to be erroneously suggestive. Though the daughter plays a prominent role in the book, the title implies the story is about her. It isn't. Furthermore, the use of the word "abortion" in any form is provocative. Some prospective readers may shy away thinking that the story is about abortion. It isn't. When a detective on the case calls the victim an "abortionist", her daughter quickly corrects him: she was an "abortion provider". It was her profession, but Hyde wisely doesn't take sides on the issue primarily because it is largely a plot device, to set up a professional and personal relationship between Diana and the founder of the town's pro-life coalition. It's unclear why either the author or the publisher chose this title as it unnecessarily detracts from an otherwise outstanding work of mystery fiction.

Special thanks to Random House for providing the ARC of The Abortionist's Daughter for this review.

Review Copyright © 2006 Hidden Staircase Mystery Books

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1 comment:

  1. I definitely agree with your analysis of the title. For a look at my own take on The Abortionist's Daughter, have a look at my book blog.


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