Deborah E. Kennedy
Flatiron Books, July 2017
A wonderfully complex, startling, complicated debut novel that examines a small town and its inhabitants from a variety of viewpoints. A child named Daisy goes missing and the event shakes up the people who live and interact in the community. Their collective loss of this handicapped little girl are played out in myriad manifestations over months and years. The scenario allows the author to walk unseen and unknown among a racially and economically diverse population, observing and commenting on the individual and the collective.
Tornado Weather is not your typical mystery, nor does it fit comfortably into any of the usual crime fiction categories. It is an extensive and lengthy character study of a small town in Indiana. There are so many characters, one could read the story twice in short order and thus discover more surprises about characters one had thought were fully revealed.
The characters range from venal to exalted, from truthful and forgiving to criminal and nasty, exactly what one might expect to find in any middle-class community. Their actions likewise range from pure to the nastiest, racially biased criminal one might expect.
The story moves deliberately through the dining rooms and bedrooms and businesses of the residents, all affected in ways large and small by the sudden disappearance of Daisy Gonzales. Finally, of course, the mystery is solved and readers will have to decide whether the solution to this intense novel’s mystery is worth the ride. To most, I suspect, the answer will be yes.