Snyder is here to tell us, in her clear, smooth and accessible style (never folksy but never academic, and so matter-of-fact you can feel the writer holding herself in check so as not to overwhelm us with painful details), that we have misunderstood. The most dangerous place for an American woman to be – the most dangerous place on Earth – is in her own home. Snyder uses the case of a Montana family, Michelle and Rocky Mosure and their children, to create a strong narrative spine that runs through the book (which has been much praised in the US, described as a book that will “save lives” by the Washington Post). She interviews everyone who can be heard from: family, attorneys, police officers.
There is a river of shame and grief in this book, and even the most well meaning wade in it. Even those who seem to refuse responsibility (“The criminal justice system isn’t set up for uncooperative witnesses,” says a former district attorney) do also seem to know better and to regret, genuinely, all the things that went wrong and led to a young woman and her children being murdered by a man who was known to the police and to the courts for having beaten and terrorised them all repeatedly.