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Nina Blakeman
The Peace Talk
They made a mistake. Some might call it an error in judgement, others call it murder. As adults, Andy, Gary, Hal, and Monty are defined by the events of a single day on the banks of the Arkansas River that followed their high school graduation. As each man struggles to establish himself—in love, in family, in career, in society—a shadow of lies and secrecy looms. The lives of four men are bound together by a shared past—and a deadly assault. Every year, the men meet prior to a vigil that memorializes their former teacher: not out of respect for him, but to get their story straight. However, when the daughter of their slain teacher also turns up dead, years of lies begin to unravel, and each man must either face up to his role in a man’s death or be overtaken by it. Amid their struggle is Monty’s father, Judge Winston Reardon. Upon learning that he’s the namesake of a relative who committed treason during World War II, his identity ruptures—the collateral damage far-reaching. The judge’s strategic, punitive tactics stem from his determination that his son, Monty, not have a weak constitution—like a traitor. He’s going to make a real soldier out of the boy. As far as the judge is concerned, there’ll be no negotiation, no conflict resolution, no peace building. To the judge, life is a war and the thought of surrender—not an option.