Cover image for The tarnished eye
The tarnished eye
Guest, Judith.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Scribner, [2004]

Physical Description:
267 pages ; 24 cm
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FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
FICTION Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

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From the New York Times bestselling author of Ordinary People comes a gripping novel of suspense, exploring fragile family dynamics in the aftermath of tragedy...Acclaimed author Judith Guest makes a triumphant return with this poignant and powerful novel that's sure to add luster to her reputation as one of the most thoughtful observers of the human condition.Taking as part of her inspiration a baffling, unsolved true-life crime, Guest achieves in this absorbing new novel an extraordinary combination of page-turning mystery and intimate, emotionally charged family drama.The Tarnished Eye takes readers to the community of Blessed, in northern Michigan, where Sheriff Hugh DeWitt still grieves for his infant son, who died of SIDS a few years earlier. Obsessed with the past, he's endangering his future with his beloved wife and daughter.Meanwhile, up the road from the DeWitts, in one of the rich summer cottages, Paige Norbois grieves for a lost love of her own. Married to a stern and unresponsive man, Paige wills herself to stay in the marriage and sacrifice her personal feelings for the sake of her children's stability.But soon an unimaginable tragedy destroys all dreams of stability in Blessed. Paige, her husband, Edward, and their four children are brutally slaughtered in their home. Sheriff DeWitt, deeply moved by the horrific murder scene, must find answers to a string of urgent questions.When, exactly, did the murders occur? Why did nobody miss the family earlier? Who had a motive to kill? The man with whom Paige was having an affair? The business partner, who was stealing from Edward's publishing firm? Which family member was the primary, intended victim? And above all, what sort of trauma could fuel a killer's capacity to commit such hate-driven violence?Judith Guest, with her own untarnished eye and finely nuanced prose, delivers a novel that transcends genre and showcases once again her remarkable literary gifts.

Author Notes

Judith Guest was born in Detroit in 1936. She earned a degree in Education from the University of Michigan. She has been a schoolteacher in Detroit.

With no formal training in fiction writing, novelist Judith Guest began to write fiction and poetry when her youngest son started school. Her highly acclaimed first novel, Ordinary People, was published in 1976 and has since been published in 13 languages. It was made into a film, directed by Robert Redford, which received the Academy Award for best picture in 1980. Guest's subsequent works include Second Heaven (1982), Killing Time in St. Cloud (1988), Errands (1997) and The Tarnished Eye (2004).

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Guest made a considerable splash with her first novel, Ordinary People (1976); the successful film version earned an Oscar. She hasn't been prolific, a fact to be applauded if conserving her energy explains the intense energy in her latest novel, a thriller based on an actual murder case that occurred more than three decades ago and is still unsolved.ust as Guest's apparent instinct for the conventions of the domestic-fiction genre stood behind her stunning exploration of family dysfunction in Ordinary People, she now demonstrates as strong a grasp of the defining traits of the suspense novel. An entire family has been murdered in their summer cabin in northern Michigan, and the local sheriff faces a staggering uphill struggle in attempting to find an explanation. Guest carefully insinuates the reader into the lives of all the people involved in the case--not only the victims and the sheriff but also relevant townspeople and obvious and not-so-apparent suspects. At a fast but methodical pace, she follows the story of the crime's ramifications and draws a connection to a simultaneous series of coed murders in Ann Arbor. The gathering momentum is irresistible. By maintaining the plot's welcome and even necessary swiftness while at the same time tending to character development, depth, and differentiation, Guest produces a novel shivering with artistry and darkness. --Brad Hooper Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Loosely based on an actual unsolved crime that occurred in Michigan in the late 1960s, this tightly paced, gripping thriller is imbued with substance, sensitivity and depth. County sheriff Hugh DeWitt and his wife are still reeling three years after the SIDS death of their infant son and struggling to sustain a normal life for the sake of their 10-year-old daughter. The emotionally scarred DeWitt, once an overeager lawman, now cherishes the beauty of days "where nothing happens" in his quiet community. Though he knows all of the town's year-round residents by name, no one seems to know any of the affluent families who come to summer in anonymity along the bluffs of Lake Michigan. The Norbois are a classic example: the father a high-energy publishing executive, the mother and four kids a poster family for upper-middle-class values. When a handyman reports seeing something strange, DeWitt goes to investigate and finds they've all been ceremoniously executed and left to rot inside their palatial vacation retreat. Suddenly, DeWitt is on an emotional trail that jerks him back and forth between reflections on the anniversary of his son's death, the horrific murder scene and the serial rape/murders of a handful of University of Michigan coeds. As the point of view shifts from sheriff to victims and back again, Guest (Errands, etc.) keeps the plot moving along apace, creating a finely tuned page-turner. Agent, Patricia Karlan. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Sheriff Hugh DeWitt of not so Blessed, MN, contends with the murder of an entire family. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.