All the Dead Yale Men by Craig Nova is about family secrets, one of which is fathers shouldn’t cheat sons. In addition keep track of the rules, too. Number one: never put someone in a position where they can say no to you; number two: if you are applying for a job, don’t ask what the employer can do for you. Explain what you can do for him. Number three: the truth is a dangerous substance. The Mackinnons are a tough lot and all Yale graduates and Harvard Law graduates. Grandpa, Pop, a lawyer, dad, Chip, a lawyer, son, Frank, a prosecutor, much to dad’s chagrin. “Harvard Law to be a prosecutor?” And Frank’s daughter, Pia.
Catherine Mackinnon, Pop’s wife, kept notebooks, which may hold the secrets, and Frank begins reading them. He learns about his grandma’s lover and the outcome, a negotiation. Frank’s best friend and colleague commits suicide while Frank is trying to talk him off the bridge. His dad died earlier that day in his arms. Frank has his wife, Alexandra, and their relationship is spot on as they discuss the day’s tragic events. This is a healthy marriage.
Fathers and sons are one type of relationship, but fathers and daughters are a whole different kind of basket of troubles, and Frank and Pia are cascading along their precarious path. We are seeing the effects of genealogy, of fate, of how the past just doesn’t stay in the past. Chip was a spook with the CIA and that fact creates paranoia in the reader as life closes in on Frank as if planned and not an accident. Is it free will or predestination? Or is it like the Greeks wrote it, which is the favorite read for Frank. Is it always just another Greek Tragedy? It seems like we are just pawns, choose a hand. Like chess, life is about choices, finesse, deceit, taking control, acting, and love.
The bear swayed from side to side. Yes, it seemed to say, we will settle this later.