Dahlia's Gone by Katie Estill was originally published in 2007. My hardcover copy is 239 pages long. I guess this would be classified as a murder mystery for women, although there is very little mystery involved since the identity of the murderer is never truly in doubt. What Estill seems to be trying to do is take the basic plot of the murder and write a chick-lit novel around it. Dahlia's Gone is really more of an introspective-lite account about how three women handle their relationships and inner turmoil during the murder investigation. Actually, I think Estill was a wee bit confused about exactly where she wanted to go with Dahlia's Gone since there are several loosely started story lines that could have given the novel a richer depth had they been developed. Also in many ways it does seem that in her writing Estill was trying too hard in some cases but perhaps not enough in others. You know, Dahlia's Gone isn't a bad novel. There is some interesting character development and it did hold my attention. It's not quite as good as other people have claimed. Rating: 3.5
The murder of a teenage girl, Dahlia Everston, profoundly affects three middle-aged women in Estill's poignant second novel... set in what appears to be the Missouri Ozarks. Norah Everston, Dahlia's fundamentalist stepmother, can't bring herself to believe that her teenage son, Timothy, may know more than he's telling about Dahlia's brutal stabbing death. Sand Williams, a former World Health Organization reporter and Norah's nearest neighbor, who was supposed to check up on Dahlia and Tim while Norah and her husband were away, feels terrible guilt. Deputy sheriff Patti Callahan, who's the first official to visit the crime scene and has made a career of defending the abused women of her Ozark community, vows to see justice done. Simply told, without cliffhangers or sensational revelations, the story focuses on Norah, Sand and Patti as each adapts to the emotional landscape in the aftermath of an outrage that will leave them forever changed. (Jan.)
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"A promise can change a life. Even a small, casual promise extended without much thought or contemplation." pg. 1
"The implied criticism that she left Weleda County and went away.. and moved back only after her father died. It's true that no one from here asks her what her life was like away from here." pg. 9
"Mom - Norah - said you're going to make sure we follow all the rules"
"Rules? What rules? She didn't tell me about any rules?" pg. 12
"The lesson of the wild dogs had many applications in life... Don't let then know you're scared. Stand still. Talk to them in a commanding, even voice. Don't ever run, or they'll attack." pg. 24
"Her father always complained about the nuisance of squirrels...'They're nothing more than rats with puffy tails!' " pg.. 48-49
"When her father left this world, all the bird feeders in his yard were armed with nails. any squirrel foolish enough to jump down onto a feeder would be instantly impaled" pg. 50
"I call it the wife-beater god." pg 93
"Two years ago she was hauling fifty-pound bags of rice over her shoulder for hours at a time. Now, most mornings, it's an effort to climb out of bed. Where is her strength, her energy? What happened to the person she has been up to now? Is she suddenly old?" pg. 118
"When Sand walks back into the cabin, she senses some mild geological shift has occurred, an intimation received without language but understood, the way cats and dogs know an earthquake is on the way." pg. 141