Home Sweet Home by April Smith
From the widely praised author of the FBI Special Agent Ana Grey series and A Star for Mrs. Blake, this riveting epic drama follows the Kusek family from New York City to America’s heartland, where they are caught up in the panic of McCarthyism, a smear campaign, a sensational trial, and, ultimately, murder.
Calvin Kusek, a WWII pilot and attorney, and his wife, Betsy, escape the 1950s conformity of New York City to relocate to a close-knit town in South Dakota. They settle on a ranch and Betsy becomes a visiting nurse, befriending a quirky assortment of rural characters. Their children, Jo and her brother Lance, grow up caring for animals and riding rodeo. Life isn’t easy, but it is full and rewarding. When a seat in the State Assembly becomes available, Cal jumps at the chance to repay the community and serves three popular terms.
Things change when Cal runs for the U.S. Senate. The FBI investigates Betsy, and a youthful dalliance with the Communist Party surfaces to haunt the Kuseks. Mass hysteria takes over, inflamed by Cal’s political enemies. Driven by fear and hate, their neighbors turn, condemning them as enemies and spies. The American Dream falls apart overnight as the Kuseks try to protect their children from the nightmare that follows. The family is vindicated in a successful libel lawsuit, but the story doesn’t end there: years later, Lance Kusek and his wife and son are brutally attacked, and the mystery then unfolds as to who committed this coldblooded murder, and are they related to the stunning events of decades earlier?
“Against the backdrop of America’s heartland, this stunning epic drama follows the Kusek family over fifty years, through relocation from metropolis to prairie, the panic of Communism and McCarthyism, a smear campaign, a dramatic trial, and, ultimately, murder. On Christmas Eve, 1985, Jo Kusek discovers her brother and his family have been savagely attacked. The wife has been killed, father and son barely alive. How did this happen? Cal, Jo’s father, was a World War II pilot and an attorney. Betsy, Jo’s mother, was a worker’s advocate. In 1950, they escaped the political hysteria of New York City, and relocated to a close-knit town in South Dakota. Cal became a cattleman, Betsy a nurse. Jo and her younger brother, Lance, were inseparable. A seat in the State Assembly became available and Cal jumped at the chance to serve the community that had taken them in. Life was full and rewarding. Things change when Cal runs for US Senate. His campaign threatens the local triumvirate of power that will do anything to stop him. The FBI investigates Betsy, and a youthful dalliance with the Communist Party surfaces to haunt the Kuseks and divide the town. Driven by fear and hate, the Kuseks’ neighbors condemn them as enemies and spies. Their American Dream falls apartovernight and becomes an agonizing nightmare. And although they are vindicated in a successful libel lawsuit, the story doesn’t end there: years later, Lance Kusek, his wife and son, are violently assaulted, and the mystery then unfolds as to who could have committed this coldblooded act. Is it the result of the events decades earlier? As her loved ones hover between life and death, Jo Kusek becomes our witness to one of the most brutal periods in American history”–