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Book review: 'The Done Thing' is a haunting tale of justice and compassion

Posted November 15

"THE DONE THING," by Tracy Manaster, Tyrus Books, $24.99, 288 pages (f)

On Oct. 25, 1982, long before the opening of Tracy Manaster's "The Done Thing," Clarence Lusk discovered his wife with her lover and shot them both in cold blood. He was apprehended the following day with his 5-year-old daughter buckled into the back seat, but not before he hit and killed a police officer attempting to bring him into custody.

For Clarence's wife's sister, Lida, life was never the same. Lida took in Clarence's daughter and mourned her sister as best she could. Clarence was sentenced to die, but the lingering appeals process meant two decades of torturous waiting for both Clarence and Lida. Neither could let go until justice was done.

"The Done Thing" is a masterful example of what fiction can be. The writing is sharp and evocative, tenderly depicting a sister's grief-born obsession. Clarence is an unrepentant villain, so different from typical death penalty-themed novels. Lida is wounded and bitter, tender and loving, and completely lost in the past. But justice, compassion and forgiveness are the real main characters of this book, and readers will know them better by the story's end.

Manaster is also the author of "You Could Be Home by Now" and a graduate of Wesleyan University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and twin daughters.

"The Done Thing" contains scattered profanities and some described violence. Some sexuality is discussed after the fact but not described. The story also addresses mature themes such as adultery, infertility, murder, prison life and the death penalty. The novel is probably best for readers in their late teens and older.

Rachel Chipman has a bachelor's degree in family life and human development. Her current goals are to read more, write more and learn to type while holding her infant daughter. Her email address is racheldchipman@gmail.com.

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