Suzy Vitello


A forensic artist confronts a crime against her own family when her brother is shot when he hires an old friend as surrogate for his child, while MAGA politics, racism and violence rage in a small town in the Bitterroot Mountains of Idaho.

Set in the fictional town of Steeplejack, nestled in the Bitterroot Mountains, Hazel Mackenzie provides law enforcement with sketch art and victim reconstruction following suspected crimes, through her one-woman business, Bitterroot Renderings. Trouble strikes twice when her husband dies in an accident and then soon after, her gay twin brother Kento is shot by a member of Steeplejack’s growing anti-LBGTQ community during a gender reveal party. The party was coordinated by Corinda, the surrogate hired by Kento and his husband, Tom. It was Corinda’s estranged husband who pulled the trigger and subsequently abducts and brainwashes her into believing the lie that he shot Kento in self-defense as an edited video focuses on the antique Kwaiken knife in Kento’s hand.

As Hazel launches her brother’s defense with help from an attorney friend, she finds the town she grew up in increasingly polarized and dangerous. When she uncovers an ugly secret about her late husband, it leads her to the discovery of letters written by her great-grandfather during the second world war. He was a first-generation Japanese-American who was recruited by the US military while the rest of the family was interned in a prison-like camp. Now, some eighty years later, the same racism and prejudice threatens to strip Kento and his husband of their basic rights to their baby. Hazel must now confront her own intergenerational trauma as she battles for herself, her brother, and a town that has been torn apart by hate.