Book Review: The Quiet Streets of Winslow by Judy Troy.
When 14-year old Travis Aspenall and his little brother Damien find the body of a murdered young woman “tossed away” in a wash near their home in northern Arizona, their discovery sets in motion an investigation to find her killer. From the first page, the reader has to adjust to a story written in the first person, but from three different first-person perspectives.
There’s Travis, the young teen who finds Jody’s body. Next is Nate, Travis’s much older brother, who is in love and lust with Jody. Finally, we meet Sam Rush, the deputy sheriff and friend of the Aspenall family who investigates the crime. There’s also a cast of minor characters who bring depth to the novel. It is to the author’s credit that shifting first-person perspectives in every chapter works well and adds to psychological insight.
This carefully constructed novel is far more character-driven than the typical novel labeled “mystery.” As the story unfolds in a sparse, tight prose that is both revealing and full of mystery, we learn much about the effects of loneliness, of yearning for love, and of severe social alienation bordering on mental illness (possibly crossing that border). Although we never meet her in life, we’re left with an overwhelming sense that the dead woman Jody has very consistently made numerous self-destructive decisions in her life that contributed to her death. The attempt to deal with sexuality by three males at different stages in their lives is one theme of this novel. Other themes include loyalty, especially loyalty within families; what love is and what it is not; the effects that damaged parents have on young children; and the connections and disconnections among people in small towns. Underlying this all is the awareness of life in a quiet Arizona town where nothing ever happens and nothing ever changes….until it does.
Sam and the county prosecutor decide to not bring a case due to lack of sufficient evidence although they both agree that circumstantial evidence points strongly, very strongly, to one person. There is another suspect, though, and they know a defense attorney will jump on that fact in court. So Sam and the prosecutor wait for more evidence to turn up so they can pin down their case. More evidence does turn up, but only one character knows about it. He then has to make a difficult decision. The final pages leave us with a sure knowledge of who the murderer is, but no sure knowledge of what the outcome of the murder investigation will be.