When Mae Bennett, Alice Bennett’s mother-in-law, is injured in a fall, Alice considers it a prime opportunity to take some quiet time away from her troubled marriage, build deeper connections to her husband’s family, and incidentally write an article for her employer about a long-forgotten but gruesome murder case from the area. Mae, however, is convinced that her fall was not just a mere accident, but an assault, and evidence begins to mount suggesting that she’s right. At first, the culprit seems obvious – a ne’er-do-well alcoholic named Larry Lee Simms, whose family bears a grudge against the Bennetts – but as the investigation continues, the situation quickly proves far more complex than she ever expected. There are skeletons in everyone’s closet, and survival might depend on how willing Alice is to face her own…
ALL THE BROKEN PEOPLE is a book very like the small Georgia town it describes – on first glance, it appears friendly, cozy, a simple little tale full of likeable people and an engaging mystery, but as the story goes on, it deepens, becoming more painful and complicated, pulling the reader’s sympathies in multiple directions and making it clear that there are no easy answers. Very few people in the story emerges without losing something or someone dear to them, or at least being forced to question whether someone or something they value is what they have seemed to be.
We see the story through both Alice’s and Larry Lee’s eyes, giving us a dual perspective that startles us out of initial assumptions and wins sympathy and affection for both characters, with all their flaws and virtues. The real brilliance of the author is in her characterization, and in the way she makes us feel for each and every one of her creations. There isn’t a character in this book who feels flat, either too perfect or too demonic- every one of them is a fully-realized human being, and even the most evil character in the book has motivations rooted in deep grief, grief that cannot help but arouse our heartfelt pity. It’s a beautiful book, though not an easy one to read.
ALL THE BROKEN PEOPLE is a powerfully, emotionally-evocative story, simultaneously brutally honest and lovingly hopeful, heart-breaking and life-affirming.
~Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader