Harper Perennial. Published in Canada 2003, in the U.S. in 2004.
This novel, based on actual events which occurred in Ontario in the 1950s, is a richly detailed family story plus murder mystery, with a powerful subplot concerning child abuse. Madeleine McCarthy is the daughter of a beautiful Acadian woman, Mimi, who married Jack McCarthy, a dashing Canadian Air Force officer. Cut from flying duty by a training accident, Jack has become a teacher of managment at officer training classes. The family -- parents plus Madeleine and her older brother Mike -- are posted to a Canadian Air Force base near Toronto during the height of the Cold War.
The plot is thick with secrets kept by Jack and by his 9-year-old daughter -- secrets which result in devastating consequences for several families. A child is found murdered and the suspected murderer is quickly convicted. Decades later, the real events, and the real murderer, are uncovered. The crime, when we discover the details, is brutal and shocking, even though the clues are fairly presented.
The author is ruthless in her portrayal of several kinds of evil but she also brings to vivid life the love between family members, the bonds which unite military families, life during peacetime on a military base, where families learn to make friends quickly, because they will be together only a short time.
It's a compelling read.
Canadian fiction is one of the best-kept secrets of bookselling. This book found its way to a Borders in Minnesota, but so many more good Canadian novels never see the light of U.S. bookstores. Canadian authors -- except for people like Mordecai Richler and Margaret Atwood -- are hard to find in the Lower Forty-eight.