The Abortionist's Daughter
Elisabeth Hyde
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Buy *The Abortionist's Daughter* by Elisabeth Hyde online

The Abortionist's Daughter
Elisabeth Hyde
Knopf
Hardcover
304 pages
June 2006
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars
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Local doctor Diana Duprey, manager of the Center of Reproductive Choice, is found dead beside her lap pool. Huck Berlin and Eric Vogel, the two detectives assigned to the case, grasp pretty quickly that it was far more than just a simple slip and fall. Her husband, Frank's, initial grief at her death cannot disguise the fact that the couple was heard arguing the night before with Frank driving off in a terrible huff.

On the surface, Frank and Diana seemed to be the perfect couple, both respected and admired in the community. In reality, however, they were locked in a passionless and difficult marriage and over the years had steadily been drifting apart. The death of their son with Downs Syndrome several years earlier was perhaps the final catalyst in their journey towards separateness.

Their nineteen-year-old daughter Megan was across town that night, sharing an ecstasy tablet with her best friend, looking for a way to obliterate her problems. Somewhat spoiled and self-centered, Megan had that morning expected her mother to shout her a trip to Mexico. When Diana refused, Megan's last words to her were: "have fun killing babies today."

Diana, Frank and Megan seemed to be walking a fine line between highly regarded amicability and domestic chaos. Just before she died, Diana had hoped to resurrect her marriage to Frank, but the couple continued to be plagued by petty disagreements. A type of insoluble resentment consumed Frank, angry at his wife for not taking the job of parenting seriously enough.

Almost at once, Frank is designated the prime suspect, the motive obvious - a domestic argument - and he finds himself caught up in an unthinkable predicament as Huck and Eric wait for him to step forward and either confess or offer an alibi.

There are, however, other suspects who had a vested resentment of Diana. She had certainly earned the long-standing fury of Reverend Stephen O'Connell, president of the rabble-rousing anti-abortion group Lifeblood Coalition. There's also Bill, Megan's jealous and controlling ex-boyfriend, who had an uneasy friendship with Diana, a connection based on the desire to confess.

Author Elisabeth Hyde vividly reveals the dark and sordid miasma, the underhanded murkiness of middle-class suburbia, where drugs, pornography and religious zealots exist alongside. Deeply moving and psychologically puzzling, the novel is full of dark deception, the characters bursting with hidden agendas.

Megan feels as though she has been placed in a "glass box," with everyone wondering what secret knowledge she might possess about her intimate family circumstances. And Bill's obsessions become increasingly unnerving; he lives in a fantasy world, accusing Diana of doing methamphetamines, spreading rumors about her, hoping he can use her to get back at Megan for dumping him.

Hyde delves into the nature of abortion as a complex and multifaceted issue, neither black nor white, where alliances and coalitions can deviously shift minute by minute. As an abortion doctor, Diana has spent much of her life being both courageous and scared, and she liberally admits she has made a lot of mistakes not just as a doctor, but also as a wife, a mother and a person.

In the end, Diana felt she was serving a very real purpose: helping out women lacking money, lacking partners, and lacking the emotional wherewithal to raise a child. It is unfortunate that finds herself caught in up in such terrible web of destruction and intrigue and that she ultimately paid for it with her life.



Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. Michael Leonard, 2006

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