Picks and Pans Review: The Way the Crow Flies

updated 10/06/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/06/2003 01:00AM

By Ann-Marie MacDonald
NOVEL
CRITIC'S CHOICE

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The year is 1962, and the McCarthys, a Canadian military family stationed at a quiet air force base in Ontario, are a happy brood. Jack and Mimi have a storybook marriage and two perfect children. "Life is beautiful," Jack muses. Uh-oh.

Jack gets involved in a secret Cold War mission that goes awry. Meanwhile, his daughter Madeleine, a precocious 8-year-old whose conscience speaks to her in the voice of Bugs Bunny, doesn't tell anyone she is being abused by a child molester. When another local girl's murder hits close to home, Jack and Madeleine must decide whether to reveal their secrets.

This extraordinary follow-up to MacDonald's debut novel, the million-selling Oprah's Book Club selection Fall on Your Knees, is a both a head-spinning murder mystery and an absorbing exploration of morality, innocence lost and the lengths to which parents and children will go to protect one another. Astonishing in its depth and breadth, it artfully weaves one family's struggles into the fabric of the Cold War.

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