Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Our Little Secret. Kevin Flynn, Rebecca Lavoie. Berkley Books (2010)
An engrossing and frequently very surprising account of a murder in New Hampshire in 1985 and the twenty year delay before the murderer was arrested and brought to trial.
In November 1985, Eric Windhurst shot a man he had never met because he believed that the man was a child abuser who had sexually molested a girl he knew. The twenty years that elapsed between the crime and his arrest were not due to his ability to stay quiet and lay low, they owe much more to a unspoken consensus that the victim, Danny Paquette had it coming.
The very nature of the crime made it very difficult to investigate from the start, Danny Paquette was killed by a single shot from a considerable distance, a level of skill that created a persistent concern of an unlucky accidental shot. The brutal simplicity of the crime also meant that unless those directly involved confessed there was no way that they could be convicted.
Kevin Flynn and Rebecca Lavoie tell an extraordinary story with great restraint, skill and detail. By its very nature the people in the story all have a stake in the story and are more or less unreliable. The authors do not stand in judgement, they are more concerned to have as complete a story as possible. The person who is treated the most sympathetically is one of the most unlikely, Danny Paquette's brother Victor. Victor fought for twenty years to bring his brother's killer to justice, he is a man of very rough edges and ultimately the reminder that murder frequently has multiple living victims.
The most interesting aspect to the story is the unenforced silence so many people maintained for so long. Eric did tell a lot of people about the murder, they chose not to tell the police. How the crime came to be solved is as unexpected as the way it was hidden. This is a great story, skillfully told.