Lori Roy’s Bent Road.
While I would hesitate to call Bent Road a psychological suspense or even a dedicated mystery, I can say that it is an engrossing read. This new novel brilliantly captures the small town aura of 1960’s Kansas. Flitting between the 3rd person narratives of four characters; Celia, her two youngest children Daniel and Eve-ee, and her sister-in-law Ruth, the novel manages to be both literary in its encapsulation of small town life and prejudice and intriguing in it’s presentation of two mystery subplots, the unexplained death of Eve (Celia’s sister-in-law) decades before, and the sudden disappearance of a young girl. I say subplots because while both are essentially the blood in the veins of this story, their strength in terms of plot falls in comparison to the infinitely more interesting character study that this novel becomes. It is easy to become sucked into the world of these characters, to feel sorrow with them, fear for them, and to be angered by their actions. One becomes far more concerned with the thoughts and actions of these individuals than the (to my mind) less interesting mystery-plot. The ability of Roy to elicit this response from a reader as a first time novelist says a lot about her writing prowess. In this period of phenomenal debuts, I would highly recommend this new novel to lovers of solid character-driven fiction.