Nana Underhill's intoxicated plan to run Lily over with her car seemed like a good idea at the time. Having slept with Lily's husband Mark, she needed to ease her guilt with an act of kindness - -however bizarre. The accident would bring Lily's husband racing to the scene and back into Lily's affections. But when Mark fails to show up as planned, the staged accident backfires and Nana has to pull Lily from a pool of blood and take her to hospital herself. Then Daryl, the husband of their eccentric friend Alice -- who spends afternoons sitting on the front porch with her mannequin Delane - -finds a severed hand in the middle of a rural Ontario highway. He scrapes it off the road with a snow brush and puts it in a cereal box for safekeeping.
Who the severed hand belongs to is only the first challenge for small-town detective Harris Cool. Why the hand was severed in the first place sends him on a chilling journey into the complexities of one woman's tortured past. Only when Detective Cool confronts his own demons -- and when Lily's crazy mother Carol reveals hers -- do Nana and Lily come to the startling truth about their own fractious relationship.
About the author
Rebekkah Adams is an Owen Sound, Ontario writer whose short fiction, poems, and journalism have appeared in such publications as Fireweed, Canadian Women's Studies Journal, and the Georgia Straight. A graduate of the Humber School for Writers program, she is the author of Glass Houses: Saving Feminist Anti-Violence Agencies from Self-Destruction (2008), a critique of governance and internal conflict in anti-violence agencies. A front-line worker and manager for over twenty years in shelters for women and children, she is currently a counselor in private practice. Front Porch Mannequins is her first novel.
Excerpt: Front Porch Mannequins (by (author) Rebekkah Adams)
"What the hell?"
Daryl swerved to avoid running over something on the road, then stopped.
"No way. There's no way."
He got out of the car to take a look. He stood over it for several minutes, trying to allow the image to register.
"Good fuckin' lord."
It was a hand. A person's hand. Not a plastic Halloween costume hand or a prosthetic hand. It was a human hand. He thought for a moment it was a glove, the way it lay with the fingers stiff, pointed upward and curled in. A Ski-Doo glove. But the fingers were too small and each of them was twisted in a certain way, with individual knuckles and such. The colour of the hand was like Fruit Bottom Yogurt -- wild berry or mixed berry. The hand itself was not scarred or cut. The fingernails were clean and well manicured, short and wide. It was a man's hand.
He decided he'd better pick it up and take it with him.
Adams, who must have spent some time up on the Bruce to so faithfully capture with such keen insight this sparsely populated corner of Ontario, has written a book with a difference. Front Porch Mannequins is a stunningly powerful first novel, a phantasmagorical tale. Somehow, Adams manages to make her characters seem like they are suddenly standing right in front of you, even if you wish they weren't.
The Owen Sound Sun Times