Pony Carteret -- the lovely headstrong youngest member of the Carteret family -- has always been a strong swimmer. So when she is discovered drowned at the family's summer home on Lake Aral, Vermont, her red hair tangled in an anchor chain and her baby abandoned on shore, her family is stunned by disbelief.
As the police conduct their investigation, Jasper Carteret, the patriarch, calls an urgent family meeting. Had any of her siblings known that Pony would be at the house that day? Was she having personal problems, was she depressed? Had she ever revealed the true identity of her baby's father? Neither sister -- Tinker, the family caretaker, nor Mira, the moody, thoughtful one -- has any information, and ultimately the police rule the drowning an accident.
But William Carteret, Pony's older brother, can't accept the explanation that his favorite sister's death was an accident. Determined to uncover the truth, he eventually learns the disturbing fact that a stranger had been present at the house the evening Pony died. Who was this man, what was he doing at the house, and why hasn't he stepped forward? As William digs deeper, his investigations quickly lead him to a new and more daunting series of questions, not only about the mysteries in Pony's life but also about the shadowy details of his deceased mother's past and even his own. Before long, he has opened a Pandora's box of family secrets, including one dangerous fact his mother has kept hidden for a generation.
Pam Lewis's Perfect Family is a masterful, atmospheric tale about the ways in which family secrets, no matter how long they're buried, can wield their tremendous power.
This book draws you in quickly, reading more like a family saga than a murder mystery at times. The tension between various family members is palpable - a power struggle between father, Jasper and son, William; the overt sexuality of Pony and converse repression of Tinker.
Pony, the youngest daughter of the Carteret clan dies under odd circumstances, leaving her father and siblings to unravel her past and their own - discovering exactly how many secrets they were keeping from each other. Truthfully, some of these secrets are believable...but a few were just a stretch instead of the author's intent of being jaw-dropping.
This is a quick and enjoyable read for those that can get past the goofy nicknames given to the girls in the family (Pony, Tinker and Mira).