Dorothy Place On Her Novel “The Heart to Kill”

I’m delighted to host a guest blog from author Dorothy Place today, in which she tells us a bit about her debut novel, The Heart to Kill.


The literary fiction novel, The Heart to Kill, is a story of a horrible crime, an enduring friendship, and personal illumination. Sarah, a student at Northwestern University Law School, returns to her apartment to find two telephone messages. The first is that she has not been chosen for a coveted internship for which her father had arranged an interview; the second is that Sarah’s best friend in high school, JoBeth Ruland, has murdered her two children.

To mislead her father about her failure to obtain the internship, Sarah decides to secure a position on JoBeth’s defense team and, against his wishes, returns to her family home in Eight Mile Junction, South Carolina. She sets out to become a vital member of her friend’s defense team and to regain favor with her father, but is not well-prepared for working in a community rife with chauvinism, malice, duplicity, and betrayal. Her efforts are met with the benevolent amusement of the senior law partner, the resentment of the expert trial attorney, the rush to judgement by the folks of Eight Mile Junction, and discovery of the role of several individuals in the degradation of JoBeth.

Please visit the author’s website, www.dorothymplace.com, where you can read more about the novel, how it came to written, and take a virtual tour of Eight Mile Junction.


About the Author

Author Dorothy Place

The author lives and writes in Davis, California. A research director and statistician by training, she began a creative writing, first as a hobby, then as a second career about ten years ago. Since 2005, ten of her short stories have been published in literary journals and magazines, two of which have been awarded prizes in short story contests. At present, the author is preparing a collection of short stories for publication and working on a second novel, “The Search for Yetta.”


About the Book

The Heart to Kill cover

SARAH, A STUDENT AT NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL,

RETURNS TO HER APARTMENT…

 

…after a trying day to find two telephone messages. The first informs her that she has not been chosen for a coveted summer internship, a position for which her father had arranged an interview. The second is from her mother, with the news that Sarah’s best friend in high school, JoBeth Ruland has murdered her own son and daughter. To mislead her father about her failure to be chosen as a recipient of the internship, Sarah decides to secure a position on JoBeth’s defense team. Against her father’s vehement protest, she leaves Evanston, Illinois at the end of the term and returns to Eight Mile Junction, South Carolina, a small town in the Appalachian foothills, determined to convince him that the experience will contribute to her future.

To make the best of the situation, Sarah sets out to become a vital member of the defense team and to regain favor with her father. But she is not well-prepared for the shock of leaving her sheltered academic life and working in a community rife with chauvinism, malice, and betrayal. Her struggle is met with the benevolent amusement of the senior law partner, John-Two who, despite her objection, insists on calling her “Little Lady.” The criminal trial expert on the team, Al, a tense, disciplined young attorney, resents the intrusion of what he believes to be a know-nothing law student, and treats Sarah as if she is incompetent. The folks of Eight Mile Junction close ranks in the face of Sarah’s inquiries, hiding the town’s complicity in JoBeth’s degradation from the eyes of “outsiders” by finding her guilty before the trial begins. And finally, her father, on whose judgment Sarah has relied her entire life, rejects her efforts to placate his ill-humored response to her decision that summer.

In the end, Sarah discovers the underlying issues that precipitated her friend’s murderous act. Through interviews with JoBeth, her mother, her former lover, and her work associates, her ex-husband’s mistress as well as the testimony given during the trial, the horrifying events that shaped JoBeth’s life are revealed, helping Sarah understand how a person can be driven to extremes that defy ordinary reasoning. Sarah and her friend, it is the betrayal by those they love and believe in that changes their lives forever. Ultimately, it means disgrace and imprisonment for JoBeth. But for Sarah, who decides against returning to law school, it is the beginning of a life in which she, not her father, manages her future.

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