Title - The Sausage Maker's Daughters
Author - A.G.S. Johnson
Publisher - BiblioFile Press
Date Published - 2012
# of pages - 400
The sausage maker's youngest daughter is heading for the fight of her battle-scarred life. It's the era of the counterculture and Vietnam. But twenty-four-year-old Kip Czermanksi is nowhere near her home in California. She's in a jail cell in her hometown in Wisconsin awaiting a court appearance in the mysterious death of her ex-lover, who happened to be her brother-in-law. Given her father is the small town's leading citizen; Kip isn't overly worried, at first. But the personal grudge the DA holds for all the Czermanskis is about to find a foil Kip. What follows is a wild ride through Kip's present predicament and her past. She'll come to regret leaving her life in LA, regardless of the good reason for which she returned, when family dynamics and sibling rivalries, magnified by her counterculture attitudes and feminist beliefs, lay Kip's life bare before the courtroom. Distrusting her legal team, her rebellious history well known, things both personal and legal spiral out-of-control. It doesn't look good for Kip Czermanski.
The Sausage Maker's Daughters is at first everything I was hoping for and then, more than I expected. It follows the murder trial of Kip Czermanski, the youngest daughter of the sausage king in small town Wisconsin. Everyone seems to know everyone else and so the murder trial is a huge event. Kip is well known for her rebellious ways in her youth and the activism in the anti-war movement during her college days. To top it off, she is also feminist and works for a woman's assertiveness group in California. In 1970's conservative Wisconsin, she has the odds stacked against her. Only, she is having a hard time defending herself because she can't remember what happened that night her brother-in-law was found naked in her bed, and dead. What follows is a series of flashbacks to several defining moments in Kip's life as her lawyer team attempt to understand her character and find an explanation for what has happened.
I found the story very riveteting and even though some of the subjects in the flashback stories only slightly interested me, I knew they were really important and would come back later to make sense of everything. This made me really pay attention in ways I may not have otherwise. I really enjoyed the stories involving Kip's sisters Sarah and Sybel. Most of all, I enjoyed the stories about Kip's childhood. They really came out in interesting ways during the "present day" scenes because the people she mentioned in them gave testimony or were officials during her trial. Even one of her lawyers was her childhood crush.
The writing is exactly what I needed at the moment, giving away that small-town vibe yet keeping a fast pace in storytelling that made me want to keep on reading to find out more. A.G.S. Johnson is a very talented writer. At no point did I think the story was predictable. I kept guessing what really happened but had to keep leaving it up to Johnson to take me to the reveal because I couldn't picture any of the outcomes I had in mind actually happening.
Definitely recommended reading, especially to those who love a good literary mystery.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the blog tour company, JKS Communications in exchange for my honest opinion.
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