Hindsight by Barbara Rogan
HINDSIGHT opens on a hot June afternoon in 1972, graduation day at Millbrook High. Looking down upon the official ceremonies from an exclusive hangout—an outcropping of rocks, dubbed Beacon Hill—is the willowy, golden haired Willa; her best friend Angel, famed for her wild red hair, voluptuous body, and free spirit; and all the members of their tight, invincible circle of nine. Lamenting the end of their fellowship while anticipating adventures in the world beyond their sleepy upstate New York town, the friends make a solemn pledge to one another. Twenty years from that day, regardless of where they are, what they are doing, or who they have become, they will all meet again on Beacon Hill.
The narrative fast-forwards to January 1992. Willa Scott has become a celebrated author of literary biographies. For the past few months, her life has been consumed by scandal. Six months ago, her husband Simon died of a massive heart attack—quite unexpectedly, in another woman’s arms. When Willa reluctantly appears at a book signing, she is surprised to see a face—older and better groomed, but still full of mischief—from her past. It’s Patrick Mulhaven, one of the Beacon Hill gang.
Patrick, now a film professor at NYU, reminds her of their long-ago vow and enlists her help in tracking down their old companions. Still reeling from her husband’s betrayal and death, Willa longs for a return to the simple, honest relationships of her youth. Most of all, she longs to see the beguiling bad girl Angel—who tore out of town right after graduation, leaving the wreckage of her father’s prized car in her wake. But Angel seems to have vanished off the face of the earth.
With mounting tension, HINDSIGHT follows Willa on the trail of her long-lost friends—and straight into the dreadful mystery of Angel’s disappearance. As each member of the Beacon Hill gang returns to the story, more and more questions arise. In the midst of the people she once loved, Willa uncovers a tangled web of sex, lies, and shattering secrets that someone has killed—and will kill again—to keep buried forever.
To read excerpt from Hindsight, go to Simonsays (hardcover)
The Story Behind the Story
No love is as fierce, primal, joyous and tormenting as first love; and this is true whether the object of that love is a single individual or a group of people. Growing up in the shadow of the Vietnam War, I had a glorious bunch of friends, all misfits and rebels. As high school graduation approached, a sense of impending loss settled over us. We’d longed to escape from our suburban cocoon, yet as our diaspora approached, its cost grew clearer. There must be partings. Bonds would be severed, though we swore they would not.
One night, we took a vow. No matter what happened, no matter where life scattered us, we would meet again on New Years’ Eve of the millennium.
Amazingly enough, we kept that vow. For some of us, it was our first meeting in 30 years. After a tour of the old neighborhood we retreated to our hostess’s house to eat, drink and reminisce. I was struck that night, not only by the strength and elasticity of old friendship, but also by the variable nature of memory. Events vividly recounted by one person evoked not so much as a flicker of memory in another; and of the stories that were jointly recalled, there were many variants. How, I wondered, does one go about triangulating the truth with nothing to go on but conflicting memories?
I realized something else that night. Reunions bring encounters, not only with old friends and our unfinished business with them, but with our own younger selves as well.
That night, the book that became HINDSIGHT was conceived. Even as the real reunion ran its course, I began to sense the outlines of another, very different reunion. I knew that the focus of this fictional gathering would be the one person who doesn’t show; and that her absence, and the reason for it, would be the focal point of both the gathering and the story. What if the missing girl turned out to be dead but not buried…not properly buried, anyway? What if someone who had long felt secure suddenly felt threatened?
Diana Gabaldon, author of THE FIERY CROSS:
"A subtle exercise in psychological suspense that brings new meaning to the word retro"! The strands of the story lead from high-school to adulthood, and join the characters in a tightening web of memory, lust, and obligation--a web in which one of them lurks at the center, cruel and patient as a spider. A real can't- put-it-down ending, too!"
Sarah Lovett, author of DARK ALCHEMY:
"HINDSIGHT is deliciously chilling and clever. This sly, smooth novel is entertaining, engrossing, and perceptive."
New Mystery Reader:
“A marvelous book…highly, highly recommended. Rogan has done a superior job in telling her story of these friendships being re-examined through an adult eye. What does bring certain groups together as youths, and where does that bond go in adulthood? And how well do we really know and understand those we care for?.… Her unsettling examination of these questions is suspenseful and evocative... a daringly honest look at growing up and facing our past…. This book is a rare one, gripping and mesmerizing; it will keep the reader captivated until the final page.”
HINDSIGHT is an alternate selection of the Mystery Guild, the Literary Guild, and the Doubleday Book Club.
Books on Tape will release an unabridged audiotape of the book.