Friday, March 25, 2011

Bent Road by Lori Roy (review)

In a season of remarkable debuts it is often difficult to choose which new novel to pick-up. Do I want a thriller? A tear-jerker? A literary tour de force? It can prove to be nearly impossible to choose the “right” debut. As a lover of the dark and edgy I tend toward the debuts that are a little less literary and a little grittier, but despite my love of the sinister, I found myself pulled into debut novelist 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.


1 comment:

  1. Heather, Bent Road sounds right up my alley (no pun intended). I found your review very intriguing I'll definitely be this book on my list!