Parents are charged with teaching their children right from wrong, but above all else is caring for their general welfare and when Italian immigrant Anna Miller loses her five-year old son, Oliver, in a custody dispute with his father she does the unthinkable and kidnaps him. They flee rural North Carolina for Italy and with her family’s help disappear into her native homeland. Months pass with no sign of the mother and son. The boy’s guileful and mean-spirited father, Evan Meade, turns to a private investigator when the ineffective efforts of the federal authorities working alongside the local sheriff, Monroe Rossi, fail to track them down. But even as the search draws them closer to Anna, Evan’s true nature betrays itself and the question to what’s in the child’s best interest becomes not so clear anymore.
At the center of the search for the missing boy is Sheriff Rossi, the embattled lawman, a divorced father himself whose black-and-white brand of upholding the law has lent much to his method of parenting. His frustration and obligation to both his community and his estranged family deepens the closer he comes to all of those involved, but at greater risk to his life’s work is the blurring of the line that occurs between law and justice. Stuck in the middle of this is Oliver, who battles his mother and others while trying to come to grips with this strange new world in which he has been thrust.
Objectively detailed, deftly and gracefully written in a voice that refuses to intrude on the minds of its characters, A Lovely, Indecent Departure is a literary thriller capturing in stark detail an intoxicating world in which modern archetypes are turned upside down.