cover image The Mourning Hours

The Mourning Hours

Paula Treick DeBoard. Mira, $14.95 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-7783-1497-4

Assured storytelling propels DeBoard’s first novel. Berkeley professor Kirsten Hammarstrom is driving home to Watankee, Wis., when a cop outside Milwaukee pulls her over for speeding. The officer’s request for her license makes Kirsten nervous because he’s old enough to remember the case that put the name Hammarstrom on the front page of every Wisconsin newspaper years earlier. Flash back to 1994. During an elementary school softball game, angelic 16-year-old Stacy Lemke introduces herself to nine-year-old Kirsten and expresses an interest in Kirsten’s older brother, Johnny, a high school wrestling star. Soon Stacy and Johnny start dating. When Stacy goes missing, Johnny, the last person to see her, becomes the prime suspect in her disappearance. In the aftermath, gossip, lies, and innuendo take a heavy toll on the Hammarstrom family. While readers will want to know what happened to Stacy, what most compels is the observant Kirsten’s account of how a small town and a family disintegrate under the weight of the tragedy. Agent: Melissa Flashman, Trident Media Group. (July)