Dorothy Van Soest Reading & Signing her novel At The Center
Dorothy Van Soest's new book, At the Center, is the story of a foster care supervisor and investigative journalist who form an "unlikely alliance" to take on the child welfare system.
At the Center begins in 2005 when seven-year-old Anthony Little Eagle falls to his death on the concrete patio beneath the balcony of his foster home. The police decide that his death was a tragic accident, but foster care supervisor Sylvia Jensen suspects foul play. She forms an unlikely alliance with investigative reporter J.B. Harrell, and together they risk their careers and their lives to find the truth. Interspersed with their story is the 1972 story of seven-year-old Jamie Buckley who lives in a foster home where he is loved and cherished, until his birth parent’s questions lead the child welfare system to intervene. From the stark poverty of American Indian reservations to the hidden dangers of affluent suburbia, two people unlock the mysteries of their own pasts in order to bring a killer to justice.
Dorothy Van Soest is a writer, social worker, political and community activist, and retired professor who holds an undergraduate degree in English literature and a Masters and Ph.D. in Social Work. Former professor and associate dean of the University of Texas School of Social Work, she is currently Professor and Dean Emerita at the University of Washington with a publication record of ten books and over fifty journal articles, essays and book chapters that tackle complex and controversial issues related to violence, oppression and injustice. Dorothy was at Bookwoman a year ago to discuss Just Mercy, her debut novel that was informed by her widely acclaimed investigation of the lives of thirty-seven men who were executed by Texas in 1997 and inspired by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Victim Offender Restorative Mediation Dialogue program. At the Center, the first in her Sylvia Jensen mystery series, grew out of her experiences with the child welfare system. Dorothy lives in Seattle, Washington where she is currently working on the second mystery in the series that grew out of her experiences in NYC during the 1968 teachers' strike.