Bent Road

Dutton. Mar. 2011. c.368p. ISBN 9780525951834. $25.95. F
After the Chicago riots of 1967, Arthur and Celia Scott move their family back to Arthur's boyhood home in rural Kansas in search of a calmer, safer life. His family welcomes them, but the Scotts' lives are thrust into turmoil when a neighbor's child disappears, Arthur's sister suffers spousal abuse, and the shadow of a family murder haunts his younger daughter. Arthur hopes that his son will gain maturity from his new surroundings, but young Daniel's city-coping skills fail him on the farm and in his country school. Celia misses the sophistication of the city, is perplexed by the man Arthur is becoming, and is nearly overwhelmed by the silent suffering around her. Returning to the city is not an option, but the Scotts have second thoughts about life on the plains. This rich and haunting family story reminds us that simplicity of landscape does not necessarily mean simplicity of life.
VERDICT Roy's exceptional debut novel is full of tension, complex characters, and deftly gothic overtones. Readers of Tana French's In the Woods will find this dark and satisfying story a great read. Highly recommended.

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