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Books Editorial

brokenriver.jpg Broken River

J Robert Lennon, Serpent’s Tail

This thriller begins with one of the most startling chapters I’ve read in recent years when a family living in a house near the upstate New York town of Broken River are accosted in the middle of the night by people seeking to do them harm. After this shocking event the house lies dormant for a decade and more before married couple Karl and Eleanor, and their 12-year-old daughter, Irina, move in. The pair’s marriage has been put under strain, due to Karl’s serial infidelities, and they see this move as being one last throw of the dice. Irina, meanwhile, is fascinated by the house’s grisly past and is a regular contributor to CyberSleuths, an online forum where people can discuss unsolved crimes. It’s a delicious premise and J Robert Lennon moves beyond usual thriller tropes by adroitly ramping up the family dynamic and also introducing a free-roaming Observer, a kind of a narrative voice within the narrative voice, which may sound overly tricksy, but succeeds in adding another layer to this dark and suspenseful knickerbocker glory of a novel. The very definition of a literary thriller.