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In Punishment, his first novel since completing his Long Stretch trilogy, Scotiabank Giller-winner Linden MacIntyre brings us a powerful exploration of justice and vengeance, and the peril that ensues when passion replaces reason, in a small town shaken by a tragic death.
Forced to retire early from his job as a corrections officer in Kingston Penitentiary, Tony Breau has limped back to the village where he grew up to lick his wounds, only to find that Dwayne Strickland, a young con he’d had dealings with in prison is back there too–and once again in trouble. Strickland has just been arrested following the suspicious death of a teenage girl, the granddaughter of Caddy Stewart, Tony’s first love.
Tony is soon caught in a fierce emotional struggle between the outcast Strickland and the still alluring Caddy. And then another figure from Tony’s past, the forceful Neil Archie MacDonald–just retired in murky circumstances from the Boston police force–stokes the community’s anger and suspicion and an irresistible demand for punishment. As Tony struggles to resist the vortex of vigilante action, Punishment builds into a total page-turner that blindsides you with twists and betrayals.
From the Hardcover edition.
After we had sat in silence for what felt like minutes, she said, “I doubt if you ever met her. I’ll get a picture. ” Then she stood and left the kitchen. She returned with the photo that was on the poster in the store. She placed it on the table and we sat silently before it. “Does anybody know what happened? ” I asked finally. She shrugged. “How can anybody ever know? She died. Why did she die? Isn’t that always the question? And there are probably so many answers. I’m not sure any of us want to know. ” Her voice quavered slightly.
And you. How did you meet up with—Anna, if I remember? ” “Yes, Anna,” I said, feeling awkward. “We met taking night courses at Queen’s. She was hoping to be a lawyer. ” “Wow,” she said, and daintily placed a slice of potato in her mouth, eyes interested and searching mine. “She pulled it off,” I said. “Now in a practice. Successful criminal lawyer. ” I fell silent, caught in a warp between the two of them. “Funny about relationships,” I said. “One of the things that attracted me was that we didn’t seem to have much in common.
Remind me, what year was Rosalie born? ” “1966, October 29,” she said, and looked away again, toward a window and the cobalt sky, a contrail streak behind a speck. “This was Jack,” she said, removing another photo from the top of the piano and handing it to me. “I don’t think you knew Jack, did you? ” I shook my head, surprised by a feeling similar to resentment. Jack was conventionally handsome, mostly because of the smile that transformed his entire face, the kind of smile that made everybody smile, even looking at a picture of it, even knowing that he could never smile or laugh again.
I’d been gone from the place for years and I was home on a hard-earned vacation in the summer of 1988. Even so it was hard to say no to the priest. He gave my arm an insistent little shake, speaking softly: “Maybe give him the facts of life from your point of view. ” “My point of view. ” “Inside the prison system. What it’s really like. A lot of the young ones see crime as glamorous. TV and the movies. I’m sure you have a different perspective. ” “So, Father, what you’re really asking is that I try to scare him.
She stood and came from behind the desk, sat in the chair beside me and clasped my hand. “That was a year ago. What happened? ” “I’m not sure. It got in the papers. The family …” “But you guys are okay, right? You did what you had to do. ” “No,” I said. “I’m afraid not. ” “Tell me what you need to tell me, Tony. ” I did, making sure to emphasize my own responsibility. “I could have stood up to them,” I said. “But I went along with it. I chickened out. I hid behind the power structure. Tommy was the boss and it wasn’t up to me to intervene.