This article presents the second part of the reading review. You can read the first part (in Arabic and French) by going to:
Berry Malone: Caroline King’s daughter.
Caroline King: Berry’s mother.
Dodge Hanley: Berry’s father
Ski Nyland: deputy sheriff, leading the investigation.
Mr. Ben Lofland: Berry’s colleague.
Mrs. Amanda Lofland: Ben’s wife.
Oren Starks: colleague of Berry, the one who shot Ben.
Sally Buckland: Berry’s colleague held hostage by Starks.
Murderous madness and testimony
Oren Starks grabbed an elderly couple’s campervan which he had, as you would expect, cruelly manhandled and his insanity led him to strike, with his pistol, the husband on the head causing his death.
A fisherman responded to the call for witnesses being rewarded by Caroline, Berry’s mother. And it is thanks to the testimony of this fisherman that Ski and his team were able to find Starks. But,
At the end of a perilous path
Thanks to the testimony mentioned above, Ski, Dodge and two dog handlers found Starks at the foot of a tree with a gunshot wound to the temple.
The research took place under extremely perilous conditions in the BigThicket Nature Reserve in southeast Texas (see note 1). The author who takes us to this part of the world describes the way to the hiding place of Starks who mistakenly thought he would escape justice. This passage reminds us of Kunta Kinte’s description of his flight through an inhospitable forest, his futile attempts to escape his condition as a slave and return to Africa (novel: Roots by Alex Haley, see note 2).
Berry’s guilty ambition
During the investigation, Berry always emphasized the professional skills of Oren Starks. She ended up confessing that it was she who made him a criminal by usurping the product of his work and convincing management to get rid of him. Berry’s ambition, by his own admission, created a tragic situation. Starks didn’t do anything wrong. He’s dead, and Dodge regrets that he didn’t shoot him himself.
The present in the past
During the investigation, a romantic relationship emerges between Sky Nyland and Berry Malone. Likewise, Dodge and Caroline have continued, at least for some time, what they started thirty years ago. Berry now knows his parents’ love story and the reasons his father left. He just wasn’t in the right place when his daughter was born. The few naive acts with which men (in love but unfaithful in spite of themselves?) Believe they can redeem themselves are not enough. They must inflict pain on themselves (see note 3), indulge in excesses to escape their guilt. However, it was Dodge that Caroline called for help to get their daughter Berry out of business. It’s the present in the past. No?
Starks is not dead
Chapter 29, pages 455 and following.
The investigation in which Dodge took part is over and the protagonists regain their composure. But for how long ?
Dodge leaves and leaves Caroline in worry and even grief. In fact, he is determined to return to Atlanta to resume work with his friendly employer and his wife. He doesn’t like goodbyes. The reader is likely to sympathize with Caroline’s grief. He is found at the hospital where he visits Starks’ mother whose days are numbered.
Berry can now swim in the lake near his mother Caroline’s house. She is confident because her life is no longer threatened by the Starks. She only thinks of the well-being of swimming. However, as she leaves the lake she stumbles upon … Starks who gives her no chance to escape. Dear readers, reading this part of the novel, I thought Berry was having a bad dream, a nightmare. Did the author want to punish this character for excess ambition and for creating a web of lies that resulted in the ruin of the career and the accusation of Starks? She knowingly made him a deviant and cornered him for revenge. I think there are moral considerations behind this rebound that the author has created.
Readers will discover Sandra Brown’s talent in the art of suspense.
Note 1. Location of Big-Thicket:
Note 2. Critical presentation of the novel « Roots » (in French)
Note 3. About suffering (in French)