Lay Death at Her Door

Lay Death at Her Door - Elizabeth Buhmann Synopsis:After being raped and witnessing the murder of her lover Kate Cranbrook, a 20-year-old college girl, sent a man to prison. The wrong man. She lied during the trial because it was the most convenient way out. She had to protect her secrets even if it meant committing perjury. She had learned during a difficult childhood in Kenya that sometimes you have to be mendacious and ruthless in order to survive and achieve your goals. Then, deeply traumatized, she lived in seclusion with her father for two decades, isolated, bored, afraid. Now she thinks she's had enough. She is 42 and she wants to put her life in order – keep her landscaping job, become more independent, find a nice man, marry, be happy. She is also given a splendid occasion - new evidence exonerates her victim. Unfortunately it also means that her role in the trial is being examined anew Kate tries to think of a good defence line; she claims that in the darkness and confusion she must have mistaken her attacker's identity. She is lying – again – but at least now she dares admit that truth to herself. Still the local community might never forgive her for putting an innocent man to prison for twenty years even if she is a white woman, he is a black man and they live in Virginia. Kate would like nothing better than to turn her back on the past, but she is trapped in an invisible stand-off with the real killer. What will it take to get rid of him?Soon enough another dead body practically shows up on her doorstep. Kate comes to the realization that someone definitely wants to stir up the hornet's nest and draw the attention of local police to her shadowy past. Will anybody be able to see through her lies and help her before it's too late?My impressions:It was a story which grabs you with the first words and keeps you interested until you finishes it. It is a dark and twisted tale which I loved exploring. It presents an interesting, intelligent heroine, flawed to a great extend, who likes toying with the reader but also honestly recalls her own past mistakes because she feels her time is running out. Kate is a manipulative character, full of wit and ready to play on the sympathy of others. As the novel progresses, you starts to doubt her words but, at the same time, you are eager to find out the truth. The relationship with her father is increasingly disturbing and after a while, somewhere in the middle of the story, it simply becomes impossible to believe that all of the bits and pieces she told you will ever make sense. But they will, shockingly so, at the very end. Still it won’t be pleasant.The character of Kate was constructed flawlessly. Firstly let me say how much I enjoyed a woman who is beautiful, cunning, rich and guess what? She doesn’t have a retinue of available men fawning on her and worshipping the ground beneath her feet. No love triangle, no love affair, nothing and not for the lack of trying, mind you. It was so refreshingly normal and right. Let me illustrate her situation with one quote. Kate comments bitterly on her friends' advice:“Why don’t you marry, Kate? You could have anyone you wanted.”I hate it when people say that. It isn’t true. No matter how beautiful you are, how intelligent and talented, no matter how accomplished, even if you have money, it is never true that you can have anyone you want. And the worst problem is that sometimes there simply isn’t anybody. In books and movies, there is always a likely man for the taking. In real life, there isn’t always.”I instantly warmed to her after such words even if, from the very beginning, I was sure she hid too many darkness inside to be truly innocent and decent girl. As the novel is written in a form of a diary or a memoir, her first person narration allows us to look deep inside Kate’s mind and find many shadowy wardrobes full of rattling skeletons. Although Kate tries her best to exonerate herself of what she's done, a completely understandable and a very human thing to do, nothing erases the stain that has been left on her - and she is completely aware of it. She used to be a thoughtless little brat who behaved as if she had every right to own the world. She's done things she's not proud of, all in the name of survival. She was selfish, ruthless and greedy. She lied a lot and she did it so skillfully that sometimes she almost believed in her own lies. Now she must reap what she has sown.Final verdict:This novel was a real pleasure to read; I started it just to get the taste of the narration and, after a short while, I couldn’t let it go. It kept me awake late at night because I simply had to reach the final page and find out what role Kate played in all this. I won’t forget this heroine for a long time – I think it’s the highest praise any book can get. Thank you, Ms Buhman, for this great story!