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The Wrong Good Deed


The Wrong Good Deed

Two aging women, Muffin and Clemmie, are attending a new church this morning, away from Sun City, their retirement community. Suddenly, Muffin elbows Clemmie, whispers urgently, then nearly trips over her in a panic to get out of the pew. Unsure of what’s going on, Clemmie rushes after her. Besides being her friend, Muffin has ridden to church with her.

Now perturbed at having to miss closing prayer, Clemmie nonetheless points the car in the direction of Sun City, while Muffin cowers in the back seat. The woman must be prone to high drama, Clemmie thinks. Good heavens. Well, everything will calm down once they get home. But on the way back to Sun City, a pickup driven by two teenage girls goes into a ditch in front of them. To Muffin’s absolute horror, Clemmie pulls over to help. Did her friend not understand the danger they were in because of what Muffin saw at the church?

"THE WRONG GOOD DEED is a bold novel that tackles social issues, old and new, without smacking you upside the head."

A few tense hours later, the ladies are home, feeling relatively safe. Clemmie wants nothing more than to go about the business of her day, which is actually quite jam-packed, and forget the disturbance of that Sunday morning. She has plenty of her own drama. So Clemmie is not thrilled when Muffin insists on explaining why she bolted from the church. The reason involves a secret that Muffin has kept for over 50 years. The tale is a long one, and it's complicated.

Something awful happened all those decades ago, back when Muffin was called Christaphine and was married to Tommy, a man she dearly loved but who had a terrible dark side. Those were very different times, the 1960s, especially in the South. Tommy was part of a family whose men held some ugly beliefs that today are considered horrific and, if acted upon, criminally evil. As for Christaphine, she generally enjoyed the genteel life of a southern lady trying to remain oblivious to what went on around her. That is, until one day when she could no longer pretend she didn’t see. That day changed her entire future. It turned her into a hero thereafter called Muffin, never to use the name Christaphine again. But that didn’t mean Christaphine was dead.

Clemmie, harboring her own secrets, certainly didn’t want the burden of Muffin’s secret. But now that she had it, what to do with it? Rumblings from those many decades ago have begun again, like a volcano on the verge of erupting. People are nosing around. Why now, after half a century? A journalist who played a part in what Christaphine did that day is writing a book, stirring up bad memories. And a woman who worked for Mr. Tommy and Miss Christaphine is coming forward with her own stories. If these revelations become public, they could devastate Tommy’s family --- and Muffin’s. It appears that the past has finally caught up to her. But before it can blow up in her face, Sun City experiences a tragedy the likes of which this peaceful community has never seen before.

THE WRONG GOOD DEED is a bold novel that tackles social issues, old and new, without smacking you upside the head. What Christaphine did --- almost without taking time to think about the consequences to herself --- shows that humanity does have a conscience. People only have to make the decision to do the right thing. The outcome here doesn’t take anything away from the courage and caring displayed on that fateful day.

I believe that Caroline B. Cooney writes books like this to push us, even if subtly, toward becoming better human beings and bringing out the hero in each of us. While being invited to look inward, to decide if we’d have the mettle to step up in the midst of such terrible consequences, it’s nonetheless impossible not to join the Sun City community in caring for each other. Bravo again, Ms. Cooney!

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on May 26, 2023

The Wrong Good Deed
by Caroline B. Cooney

  • Publication Date: May 2, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
  • ISBN-10: 1728269865
  • ISBN-13: 9781728269863