Reviewed by Donna
TITLE: Somewhere Over Lorain Road
AUTHOR: Bud Gundy
PUBLISHER: Bold Strokes Books
LENGTH: 266 Pages
RELEASE DATE: February 13, 2018
For more than forty years, the stain of horrific allegations against their father has haunted the Esker sons. When three little boys were murdered in 1975, their dad was suspected of the crimes. The immense strain of the unsolved case shattered the family, sending the brothers reeling into destinies of death, flight, and, in the case of Don Esker, shame-filled silence.
Years later, Don returns to the family home in North Homestead, Ohio, to help care for his dying father in his final months. His dad longs for the peace that will only come with clearing his name. If Don can find the killer, he can heal his family—and himself. His own redemption begins when he becomes romantically involved with Bruce, who joins the hunt and forces Don to confront the unthinkable answer they’ve uncovered.
I have read some brilliant review books lately, but Somewhere Over Lorain Road has forced itself into the top spot and has scrambled my brain sufficiently to leave me at a loss for words. Where do I possibly start? The characters? The murders? The romance? Present day? 1975? There is so damn much that I want to talk about, to tell someone about. This story made me feel sick with apprehension, it made me cry, it made angry, but interwoven with all of that angst, was the undisputable love of family. The Esker family, of North Homestead, Ohio, who became the indirect victims of a serial killer, and survived to tell their tale.
Our main character here is Don Esker – 53ish (my memory sucks) – and the youngest of the four Esker siblings. We begin the book with Don having returned home to North Homestead, the town he grew up in, to help care for his dying father. But although the book begins here, the story actually starts forty years ago, in 1975, with the disappearance of six-year-old Eddie Tedesco.
This story is basically told in two parts, alternating chapters switching back and forth between 1975 and the present, after Don’s dying father, who was briefly a suspect in the murder of Eddie and the two little boys who followed, voiced his wish that the real killer be found so he could die an innocent man. Don doesn’t hold out too much hope of solving a forty year old cold case, but figures it won’t hurt to have a nose around the old investigation. After all, DNA profiling has advanced so far. But Don is quickly confused and concerned by the apparent lack of any decent police work and soon finds himself amateur sleuthing his way through his own investigation. As Don follows vague clues and tracks downs suspects and witnesses in the present day, the chapters set back in 1975 walk us through the murders and the fallout suffered by the Esker family after suspicion falls on their father for all of twenty four hours. Twenty four hours which drastically alter the lives of all four brothers and their parents.
While the chapters written in the present kept me riveted to the unfolding mystery, the chapters in the past damn near broke my heart. The fact that the murder victims were little children was always going to be hard hitting, but the author has a way of sharing the heart breaking visual that rips your chest open without being overly descriptive. I swear, the image of a chubby kiddy hand, or bare little feet and limbs left lying in the dirt will be etched in my mind for some time. Then there’s the death of Rich Esker. You know about this pretty much from the start, so it’s really not a spoiler. Given some early drops of information, you know what year and month he’s going to die. Again, the dread I felt as each chapter took us closer and closer to that month was ridiculous. The author really knows how to draw a reader in and then emotionally knock the crap out of you!
Murder mystery wise – you aren’t going to guess it. It’s not one of those stories where the clues are obvious and you want to shake the main characters for not figuring it out. There are plenty of suspects offered up for your consideration, some you want to be guilty, and others that you pray aren’t. And in the end it all comes together in such a crazy, over the top, deliciously complicated way that actually, somehow, makes sense. It’s fair to say that Mr. Gundy knows how to deliver a spectacular climax. (Ha! I just read that sentence back, and I swear it wasn’t meant to sound dirty.)
Despite the gorgeous cover, don’t pick up this book looking for a romance. For me, this was a story about family, although others may see it first and foremost as a mystery to solve. I saw Don’s relationship with Bruce as a way to add some lighter moments to what was often a heavy story. That’s not to say that there wasn’t any romance between the two men, but those flashes were rarely the focus. Having said that, I loved these two men together. Bruce won my heart the moment he met Don and asked him if he “needed a break” and did he want to “blow his load?”
This story probably won’t appeal to every reader. I think it’s the sort of book that you need to be in the mood for, but it’s exactly what I’ve been craving lately. Something with a bit more depth than a standard romance. The writing is impeccable and the plot enthralling – it’s safe to say that this author has some mad authoring skills.