Murder in Contoga Falls
Fourteen-year old Galena Baldwin, brutally attacked in an alley behind 1928 speakeasy, is forced to face the fact that the two most important men in her life do not care about her. She deals with them through deceit, blackmail and murder. Son of the rape Erik, copes with her irrational hate of him through music and his gay relationships that embody unknown outcomes for the future. More
A provocative novel of family drama follows the tortured relationship of a fourteen year old and her child conceived in rape. The story begins in Philadelphia in 1928 when Mafia boss, Adamo Gattuccio, learns that his lawyer, Peter Altman and his son, Klaus Altman, his bookkeeper, have been embezzling his money and suspects lawyer Peter of secretly supplying the Fed with sensitive Mob information. Klaus undergoes an identity change with a new name, Max Anders, and flees to Syracuse New York. There he meets Gaylena Baldwin. She is later raped in an alley behind a speakeasy, deceived by an unseen man in a dark alcove, Steve Bragg, who convinces her he is Max Anders, the man she is obsessed with. Two days later, she seduces sexually ambiguous Max, hoping he’ll make her pregnant. She keeps the rape by Steve Bragg her secret. Three months later, she learns she’s pregnant and convinces Max her pregnancy could only be caused by him. She uses her under-age status to threaten him with prison. He marries her. They move from Syracuse to the village of Contoga Falls, largely to hide from Mob hit men. Six months later, at the moment of her baby’s difficult birth, Gaylena sees her rapist’s orange hair and orders stepfather Hawkey to drown the baby in Contoga Falls River, across the road, but swayed by the objection of best friend, Marion who acted as midwife, suddenly changes her mind.
For a time, a boozy calm ensues as Max, Galena and Erik, a musical prodigy nurtured by his maternal grandmother, an opera singer, negotiate various forms of separate peace. But then the sordid past catches up with them; sexy, sinister Trouper Pete complicates matters, as does the immoral Detective Brent Weakly. Bodies turn up and liquor, lies and debauchery take their toll. As Erik’s home life disintegrates, his sexuality burgeons; he takes up with Allen, the seventeen year son of Erik’s new foster parents and art student as Syracuse university and from then on, more complexities of sexual, familial and social sorts and military complications arise. Erik is drafted by the army and sent to Korea. His desire to graduate from concert pianist to orchestra conductor is decided for him when he loses use of his left hand after getting blown out of a foxhole. He comes out of the resulting coma in the Camp Zama hospital in Tokyo and is promoted to first lieutenant. Because the Army’s Office of Special Investigation, precursor to the CIA, has uncovered evidence of his homosexuality, he is assigned to serve under OSI chief as a gay witch-hunting agent. Within days, he discovers his father, Max Anders, is alive and living in Tokyo, not as the Navy informed him and Gaylena, lost at sea during WWII. duVal’s deep concern for even the most troubled of his characters and their twisted relationships are the real payoff; Galena may be a manipulative harridan, but she’s a fascinating wreck whose every action enthralls. In the end, Erik experiences personal triumph and events lead to long-fought-for reconciliation with Galena and lover Allan. Buy now to find out who murdered Trooper Pete and whether or not Gaylena and son Erik survive their turbulent relationship.