With spring just beginning, the beautiful copper-colored moon hovers over South Pittsburgh, Tennessee, as two young teenagers, Crow Davenport and his girlfriend Sophie, leave a party and walk into the woods toward the river to be alone.
Fueled by lust, the two begin to undress, eager to explore each other. Realizing that he is without condoms, Crow runs off to his car, leaving Sophie waiting expectantly by the riverbank. Twenty minutes later he returns, only to discover Sophie lying on the ground, brutally raped and covered in blood.
As police sirens sound in the distance, Crow panics. Frightened he will be blamed, he races off, leaving his beloved Sophie to her fate. But it's all too late, as Sophie remembers nothing of the evening or her attackers
- except that she was with Crow that night.
With his wallet discovered at the scene of the crime and blood found on his leg when he returns home, the evidence against Crow is automatically damning. Soon this privileged boy from one of South Pittsburgh's wealthiest families is placed on trial for rape.
Crow continues to maintain his innocence, supported by Helen, his religious mother, and Carl, his reserved, detached stepfather. Helen's heart struggles against the idea that Crow might be guilty of something terrible, but as the days wear on, a consensus begins to build in the community that Crow may indeed be innocent.
The police begin looking at the possibility that more than one person committed the crime. Findings at the crime scene indicate the evidence of sperm from multiple attackers. Certain boys are questioned; others who attended the party that night were drunk and stoned.
All eyes turn to Bobbie, the handsome son of Judge Aurelia Bailey and Crow's childhood best friend. Lately Aurelia has noticed Bobbie has grown secretive and sullen. He certainly had a terrible crush on Sophie after first noticing her when
she and her mother, Rita, moved to South Pittsburgh from Montana with thoughts of new beginnings and of hope.
Meanwhile, Tom Canady, a member of Crow and Bobbie's rock band, is sexually experimenting with
Crow's younger, bookish brother, Johnny. The frustration at keeping their affair a secret grows into steady anger and resentment
with each other.
Cox conjures up an exhilarating mix of damaged teenagers as they try to shoulder their respective secrets and burdens,
facing the moral dilemmas of living in this insular world. Bobbie's lost father is found, and Crow's own father, his real one, had been lost, while Carl tries frantically to toughen the bookish Johnny up by encouraging him to practice what he views as masculine outdoor pursuits.
These teenagers are assuaging a barely drifting edge of sexuality. Obviously eager, these boys think they are men,.
They are not, yet, and just don't want to think about the price it takes to be men. These are also months of anguish for Carl and for Sophie as she yearns desperately to remember.
When she finally does, the central familial relationships of the story are tested to the limit.
Written in a confessional, cautionary tone, The Slow Moon<cite> is indeed a deeply haunting journey, where teenagers act shockingly and irresponsibly but are in the end trapped and ensnared by the endlessly self-absorbed behavior of those around them.