By Vanessa V. Friedman
Updated April 23, 1999 at 04:00 AM EDT

“There was a whiff of sourceless shame in our house,” writes journalist Pope Brock in a reader’s note in this print equivalent of a docudrama. The source of the shame, a family secret revealed by a great-aunt on her deathbed, is a story of love, lust, and betrayal that Brock re-created from a few surviving documents, oral and written memories, and a lot of imagination. The setting is Indiana in the early 1900s; the characters are Maggie, the youngest daughter of a Kentucky farmer; her husband, Ham, a local politician; and her sister Allie, high-spirited, beautiful, and married to a dull teacher named Link. Allie has an affair with Ham, even bears his child, and ultimately gets discovered. Link’s retribution takes a while to come, but when it does, it’s brutal. Though Indiana Gothic is presented as nonfiction, it reads like a much darker, adult version of Little House on the Prairie. B