After Her: Book summary and reviews of After Her by Joyce Maynard

After Her

By Joyce Maynard

After Her
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2013,
    320 pages.

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Book Summary

I was always looking for excitement, until I found some...

Summer, 1979. A dry, hot Northern California school vacation stretches before Rachel and her younger sister, Patty - the daughters of a larger-than-life, irresistibly handsome (and chronically unfaithful) detective father and the mother whose heart he broke.

When we first meet her, Patty is eleven - a gangly kid who loves basketball and dogs and would do anything for her older sister, Rachel. Rachel is obsessed with making up stories and believes she possesses the gift of knowing what's in the minds of people around her. She has visions, whether she wants to or not. Left to their own devices, the sisters spend their days studying record jackets, concocting elaborate fantasies about the mysterious neighbor who moved in down the street, and playing dangerous games on the mountain that looms behind their house.

When young women start turning up dead on the mountain, the girls' father is put in charge of finding the murderer known as the "Sunset Strangler." Watching her father's life slowly unravel as months pass and more women are killed, Rachel embarks on her most dangerous game yet ... using herself as bait to catch the killer. But rather than cracking the case, the consequences of Rachel's actions will destroy her father's career and alter forever the lives of everyone she loves.

Thirty years later, still haunted by the belief that the killer remains at large, Rachel constructs a new strategy to smoke out the Sunset Strangler and vindicate her father - a plan that unexpectedly unearths a long-buried family secret.

Loosely inspired by the Trailside Killer case that terrorized Marin County, California, in the late 1970s, After Her is part thriller, part love story. Maynard has created a poignant, suspenseful, and painfully real family saga that traces a young girl's first explorations of sexuality, the loss of innocence, the bond shared by sisters, and the tender but damaged relationship between a girl and her father that endures even beyond the grave.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"This cinematic coming-of-age murder mystery satisfyingly blends suspense with nostalgia." - Publishers Weekly

"The plot of Maynard's eighth novel, although based on the story of the real-life Trailside Killer, strains credulity at times; it is less a thriller than an affecting portrait of the relationship between a father and his daughters." - Booklist

"With the time frame speeding up, the novel thins out, ending in a speedy, decades-later wrap-up that offers more tidiness than conviction. There's fluency and insight here but also a shortage of subtlety, with the book's underpinnings too visible through its skin." - Kirkus

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Author Information

Joyce Maynard Author Biography

Joyce Maynard first came to national attention with the publication of her New York Times cover story “An Eighteen-Year-Old Looks Back on Life” in 1973, when she was a freshman at Yale. Since then, she has been a reporter and columnist for The New York Times, a syndicated newspaper columnist whose “Domestic Affairs” column appeared in more than fifty papers nationwide, a regular contributor to NPR. Her writing has also been published in national magazines, including O, The Oprah Magazine; Newsweek; The New York Times Magazine; Forbes; Salon; San Francisco Magazine, USA Weekly; and many more. She has appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, CNN, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Charlie Rose, and on Fresh Air. Essays of hers appear in numerous collections. She ...

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