On Mudas Summer’s 17th birthday, her cherished mother, Ella, is found hanging from the rafters of her home. Did she kill herself? Did her abusive husband finally go too far? Those are the whispers from the people of Peckinpaw, Kentucky. But Muddy is determined to discover the truth, and with the help of her friend, Bobby, they set out to do just that, becoming embroiled in a long-ago historical event and the hatred and racial bias of the Seventies.
Bobby is the descendant of Frannie Crow, a slave hanged at a nearby plantation for an incidental crime, her gallows used to create a bench in the town square known as the Liar’s Bench. The Bench is a significant backdrop in the telling of the tale, and the tale is full of Southern swagger and a hundred years of lies.
Richardson does a splendid job of weaving the two stories together without a literary muddle. Frannie’s touching and relevant story is told in meaningful bites, and Muddy is the personification of a 17-year-old girl who Richardson has written with wit, anger and the sensibilities of her age. A clear stage is set for Muddy and Bobby to discover the truth about Ella, Frannie and themselves as they follow a road filled with suspicions, secrets, threats and racism.
Liar’s Bench is a satisfying mystery with thought-provoking historical elements, written in a sassy Southern voice.