Monday, May 13, 2013
Imagine that four complete strangers witness a murder, yet each is convinced that he is the only one who saw exactly what happened. Each witness's history and life experiences skew the way in which he views that day's events. The police must now piece together four different versions of the same event in order to determine who committed the murder and why.
This is the plot of Leigh Hershkovich's novel, "Shattered Illusions." Sam, the proprietor of a local cafe is shot dead in the street in the middle of the night. The traumas of each witness, whether physical, psychological or emotional, deeply affect their perceptions of life, coloring the way they see and interpret everything. The reader is taken on a journey through each character's past, in order to fully understand how they developed their deeply-rooted belief systems, and how they affected the witnesses' perceptions and reactions to the murder.
One of the witnesses describes how the murder unfolded and his instinctive reaction to it:
"The scene seemed to take hours, not seconds. Finally, the weapon discharged, and everything sped up. Sam was on the floor, Sarah kneeling beside him, the killer gone, their screams piercing the night. I ducked down, covering my eyes, trying to erase what they had just seen.
"I am no less a murderer than the man who pulled the trigger that night. My selfishness and desire to stay alive caused the life of a young man to be lost. He had so much to live for, such a young man with such brave ambitions."
As the story progresses, it becomes clear to the reader why this witness blames himself for an act he did not commit nor could have prevented.
Although this genre-bending novel is categorized as a mystery, it contains a heavy dose of psychological fiction as well. Each individual tries to understand and come to terms with the role they played in their experiences, attempts to make amends with the people they hurt in the process, and tries to change their lives for the better. Each step brings us closer to revealing Sam's murderer and the motivation behind the crime.
Leigh Hershkovich stands out as a murder mystery novelist. She began writing her novel at the age of 17 and completed it at the age of 20. Raised in a family where she was surrounded by mental health professionals, she was inspired to write about dramas rich in emotional and psychological angles. A Hasidic Jew herself, Hershkovich included a character from an Orthodox Jewish home.
Hershkovich is currently working on her next work of fiction and is planning to attend university.
"Shattered Illusions" is due out the week of May 23rd, 2013, and will be available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com.
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