Do you remember what it was like to be fourteen, feeling as though you were on the brink of womanhood and wondering why everyone still treated you like a kid? During the summer of 1979, Rachel Torricelli got more than she bargained for when she figured she was old enough to secretly help her detective father catch a serial killer.
A little over thirty years ago, on a June day just before sunset—alone on a mountain in Marin County, California—a man came toward me with a length of piano wire stretched between his hands, and the intention of ending my days. I was fourteen years old, and many others had already died at his hands. Ever since then I have known what it is to look into a man's eyes and believe his face is the last thing you will ever see.—After Her by Joyce Maynard (HarperCollins / William Morrow, 2013, p. 1)
I have my sister to thank that I am here to tell what happened that day. Two times, it was my sister who saved me, though I was not able to do the same for my sister.
This is our story.
- Setting: rural Marin Country, California, 1979
- Circumstances: a serial killer finds his victims in the woods; a detective's reputation and psyche are breaking as the murders continue and the victim count threatens to reach two dozen; two sisters, daughters of the cop, decide to trap the murderer
- Characters: Rachel and her younger sister, Patty; Detective Tony Torricelli; the Sunset Strangler; the Torricelli's neighbors and friends; the victims
- Genre: mystery, thriller, family drama, coming of age
- Themes & plot lines: sisters, family, first love, loss of innocence, parenthood, stress, 15 minutes of fame
- Miscellaneous: inspired by the true-life case of the Trailside Killer from the 1970s; the author met the real-life detective's daughters and became interested in the might have beens; an Indie Next pick for this month
In the following short video, Joyce Maynard talks about the story behind her novel and introduces us to the sisters who inspired the characters in After Her.
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