A REVIEW OF
By Randy G. Pierce
Paperback 285 pages
Pierce pens poignant tale filled with grudges, grief, forgiveness
By JC Patterson
Special to the Mississippi Clarion Ledger
USA TODAY NETWORK
Randy Pierce’s legal thrillers have been a delight to Mississippi readers over the past several years. In “Pain Unforgiven,” “Mississippi Mud” and “The Peter Bay,” Pierce has captivated fans with his small town settings, political villains and stalwart heroes.
“Missy” takes a complete 180-degree turn.
Meet Wayne Jacobs, an ex-con whose life changed thirty-five years ago on a rainy night in Oxford, Mississippi. After serving twenty years in the state prison, Wayne has been mending his life, becoming a successful roofer in his hometown of Leakesville.
Wayne is a good guy, well-respected by the small town’s citizenry. Except for Margie Vance. Margie, an elderly woman suffering the early stages of Alzheimer’s, has had a burning hatred for Wayne over the last thirty-five years. You see, Wayne was responsible for the tragic death of her daughter Missy.
Margie keeps a shadow picture of Missy in her hallway. Each day that goes by, Margie marks a tally on the wall. Yep, thirty-five years worth of tallies.
The town busybody, Nellie Miller, makes it a point to check in on Miss Margie every day before she tidies up the church. Nellie has her own problems, having been married four times, each husband worse than the last. The latest, nicknamed “Catfish,” is abusive both verbally and physically.
Wayne takes young Danny Duggar, one of his two employees, under his wing. Danny lives in squalor, dirty all of the time, with no friends or suitable housing. On a whim, Wayne asks Danny to ride along with him to a small town in Kentucky, where Wayne bears a well-guarded secret.
Danny learns much of his boss’s past, including the night Wayne’s girlfriend Missy was killed in a car wreck. Wayne has never forgiven himself for the accident. In turn, Missy’s mother Margie will never forgive Wayne for killing the town’s golden girl.
“I’ve come to realize that forgiveness is a critical part of life,” said Pierce. “Sometimes, we must forgive others, and at other times we need to be forgiven. I wanted to write a story which depicted a person who needed to forgive another, a person in need of that forgiveness, and a person who needed to forgive himself. From that thought process, Missy’s story came into existence.”
Enter Lacy Chamberlain, a freelance writer from Memphis. Lacy is doing a story on the long term effects of traumatic events. She would like to interview everyone involved with Missy’s death, including Wayne’s mom Deborah, Missy’s best friend Nellie, Missy’s grieving mother, and of course the guy who caused it all, Wayne Jacobs. Wayne wants no part of the perky writer, leaving her in a trail of dust.
But does Lacy have a hidden agenda beneath all her snooping? Is she really in Leakesville to cause more pain? Or is it something totally unexpected?
Big secrets are revealed that will surprise the reader and perhaps cause them to shed a few tears. Can an angry, grieving mother forgive the past? Will Nellie get rid of her “Catfish” problem? Can Danny find a real home and true love at last? And will a fifty-four year old ex-con realize redemption?
“The loss of a loved one hurts,” the author writes. “That deep hurt is because of the tremendous love for the loved one. None of us would exchange that hurt for not having the loved one in our lives. Combine that loss and hurt with a person whose actions led to that loss and you have a gap that only God can fill. And I believe He gave us forgiveness to show us the way.”
“Missy” is a quick three-day read, filled with characters that jump off the page and become your literary neighbors. Impactful, emotional and heartwarming, “Missy” is an unexpected departure from Randy Pierce’s legal thrillers. But wow, what an exciting change!
JC Patterson is a retired producer/announcer for WLBT-TV3 and Fox40. He is the author of the “Big Easy Dreamin’” series.