Back when the first McMorrow novel, DEADLINE, was published in 1993, it was Marilyn Stasio, crime-fiction maven for the New York Times who first took notice. Ms. Stasio has weighed in over the years, saying good things and (this is a bonus) understanding what McMorrow and friends, and their neck of the Maine woods, are all about. So I was very pleased to see STRAW MAN reviewed in Ms. Stasio’s column today. And that, once again, she gets it.
“The most hurtful fights, though,” Ms. Stasio writes, “are those clench-teethed exchanges with his wife, Roxanne, over an elementary-school project on pacifism that has her working closely with the soft-handed gentleman goat farmer who owns Heaven Sent Farm. (‘Must be cashmere goats,’ Jack notes.)
I appreciate that excerpt because the tension between Jack and Roxanne is at the crux of STRAW MAN. Roxanne has come to question the way Jack navigates an often-violent world, and the example he sets for their increasingly aware daughter, Sophie. Add Roxanne’s smooth-talking, nonviolence advocating gentleman farmer “friend” and the stage is set for a marital and existential showdown.
Jack, Clair, and Louis—and Roxanne—are up against a roster of roughnecks for whom nonviolence isn’t an option. They’re surrounded and have to fight their way out, hoping that Jack’s and Roxanne’s marriage won’t be a casualty.