‘No Room for Doubt’ a story of interrupted lives

  The premise for Angela Dove’s nonfiction “No Room for Doubt” sounds a little tangled on its face. The book is about the murder of the author’s stepmother in Modesto, Calif., in 1988. The murder went unsolved for nine years, during which the victim’s estranged husband (who was the author’s father) was considered by many to be the prime suspect. “No Room” recounts the very different reactions — and subsequent life paths — taken by the estranged husband and the victim’s mother.
  Following the murder the victim’s mother, reticent by nature, overcame her own shyness to launch an increasingly sophisticated publicity campaign to encourage anyone who knew anything about the murder to confess, and eventually found a calling in helping the survivors of all victims of violent death, even hosting a local television show dedicated to victims.
  At the same time, the estranged husband continued on the self-destructive path that had become so prominent during his marriage (his second), in large part because he felt both the weight of suspicion and the responsibility to help his mother-in-law see the crime solved.
  Along with all of this, Dove recounts her often tumultuous relationship with her emotionally distant father, with whom she seeks to retain contact in large part because of her love for her little half sister.
  Confused? I was at first, but all of that soon fell away. Dove, a magazine columnist and former professor of writing and literature, has a clear, concise writing style that draws the reader into the rather complex relationships of these family members so that they seem quite familiar. The reader feels the compassion and growing determination of Jacqui, the mother, and the huge number of conflicts that color the personality of Harold, the estranged husband.
  This book would, I believe, provide some measure of aid and comfort to survivors of violent death, but for anyone is a compelling account of family interactions and the many facets of personalities.

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