I sympathised deeply with Paul; his every waking moment has become riddled with the obsession of where he has gone wrong as a father, what was behind his son's behaviour, was it really Danny who in fact committed this crime, can Paul prove otherwise? Even when the family try to make a fresh start, his need to pursue the case becomes like a drug addiction; he cannot leave it alone, even if he tells his family he will put it behind him, it's his dirty secret. His family all has to face the public outrage and hatred for this heinous crime; their friends, and the whole country have been deprived of the great hope for a new future which Senator Seagram had come to represent. The novel also raises again the thorny question of access to guns and the right to bear arms. The ease of acquiring a firearm is all too evident here. The writer conveys a picture of America today, of hope and the reality behind that hope.
And whilst Paul deals with the aftermath, what do we learn of Danny in the run up to the shooting? The author depicts Danny as a lonely lost soul, a quiet boy lacking any real direction in his life, he drops out of college and starts travelling around the country, never staying anywhere more than a few months. What can be done to bring someone like him back into society? Is it the fault of his parents? Is Paul to blame? Slowly, piece by piece, some of Danny's recent experiences and journeys are revealed to us throughout the story, these chapters strewn within the main account of Paul's thoughts and behaviour. What leads anyone to commit such an act? The novel also contains sections briefly recalling the accounts of other assassinations and atrocities in America's recent past, and of the men behind them.
This all adds up to create an intensely powerful book that is gripping from start to finish, and is beautifully written. It offers a fascinating, absorbing and intimate portrayal of a successful, intelligent and fundamentally good man who is forced to re-examine his whole behaviour as a father in the light of one dreadful action.