The single novel element, plus the racial issue and the (eponymous) young female protagonist with a father of great integrity, almost inevitably lead to comparisons with Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and memories of Scout and Atticus Finch, so it's hardly surprising to read the front page of the dust jacket announcing 'A Story of Innocence and Terror...As memorable as TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD'.
However, although this book is undoubtedly well written, Dutton's novel just doesn't merit any other comparison with Mockingbird: the pace is too slow, the power isn't there, and — crucially — I had (at least until the end) severe problems deciding if race was the main issue, or just family difficulties. It seems to lose its path for a very large number of pages.
The blurb on the rear flap quotes Dutton: 'I think what I was trying to say is that a "little bit" of evil cannot be isolated. It grows and touches, like the rain, both the just and the unjust — those who ignore it and those who are unaware of its existence.' Er, certainly it is clear that racism in the Jim Crow South of the mid-thirties was unavoidable, and that there was much social and often economic pressure for people to at least go through the motions of supporting the Ku Klux Klan. Not too sure about that meteorological analogy though.
On a lighter note, the cow called 'Dammit' is a nice touch, and reminds me of the euphemistically-named dog 'Cough' in Anthony Burgess's Time for a Tiger.
The rear cover tells me that Mary Dutton was born in El Dorado, was living in Borger, Texas at the time of publication, and was a school teacher. I'm not too sure why she published nothing else: as I have a book club edition, and as there are a number of copies of this book for sale online, the suggestion is that it was popular enough. But then, if she took ten years over this, how many would she take to complete the usually difficult second one?