Books by Barbara Rogan

BARBARA ROGAN was born in New York City in 1951 and grew up on Long Island. After one year at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Md., Barbara took a year off to work and travel in Israel and Europe. In 1973 she earned a B.A. from St. John’s after transferri

Released: July 29, 2013

"Rogan, who has never recouped the fame brought on by Suspicion (1999) with any of the titles that followed, clearly knows the publishing milieu very well, from authors' egos to Manhattan lunch places. But a smidgen less romance and a dollop of suspense would have been welcome."
A literary agent discovers that dealing with authors can be murder. Read full book review >
HINDSIGHT by Barbara Rogan
Released: Feb. 1, 2003

"Sluggish pace and colorless prose don't add up to much of a mystery, in this seventh novel from the author of Suspicion (1999), etc. "
What if a happy gang of teenagers take a vow in 1972 to reunite twenty years later, and one of them seems to have vanished? Read full book review >
SUSPICION by Barbara Rogan
Released: Feb. 1, 1999

Rogan's (Rowing to Eden, 1996, etc.) best so far goes strictly commercial in a winning, flat-out all-nighter. Is Rebecca a commercial novel? Of course, in Rogan's updating of familiar du Maurier elements, Manderley becomes Morgan's Peak, complete with the haunted house on Crag Road which beetles over a rocky cliff going down to Long Island Sound. This time, ghost-story novelist Emma Roth, who keeps her maiden name, and husband Professor Roger Koenig, a research physicist who teaches at Columbia, decide to move from Manhattan to Crag Road when Emma is seduced by the lonely huge old house for sale at a reduced price: it has a fantastic octagonal library/studio tower overlooking cliff, sea, and air. Yes, their ten-year-old son Zack, over whom Emma is excessively watchful, will have to leave his private school and find himself a new soccer team to play on. But why is Emma so watchful? A few years ago she bad a horrible driving accident: rainy night, a skid, and the death of a father and daughter in another car she plowed into. Though it was an accident, there's been enormous guilt for Emma. She doesn't believe in ghosts, but when one of her haunted house stories begins writing itself and other extraordinary things appear on her computer, and when the lavender-scented ghost of the house's former tenant, the widow and ex-schoolteacher Mrs. Virginia Hysop, begins appearing, as does the blood spot under the carpet where she fell on the stairs, and when a hallway turns frigid and earthworms wriggle in the sugar bowl . . . what is Emma to think? And then things get really creepy. Strong characterizations, especially of Emma and of her sister Maggie, acerbic of tongue, suck the reader with unerring skill into the joys of total entertainment. Du Maurier, however, could pull off her climax without gun or knife. Read full book review >
ROWING IN EDEN by Barbara Rogan
Released: June 1, 1996

The fifth novel by Rogan (A Heartbeat Away, 1993, etc.) takes us down a familiar road and into a thicket of blighted lives whose fortunes hinge upon a timely touch from the finger of God. The opening line sets the pace: ``Even though she'd asked for it, Sam Pollak could not help feeling guilty the day he killed his wife.'' But it's not what you think. Sam's wife Louise has cancer, and he puts her out of her misery at her own request. All the same, Sam is haunted by what he's done, and his guilt compounds his grief to a degree that makes his own life seem unbearable and pointless. A cabinetmaker and carpenter, Sam tries to lose himself in his work, and this brings him into the orbit of Jane Goncalves, a Manhattan social worker who's bought an old house in Sam's upstate village to use as a home for her foster children. While he works on the house, however, some of the local yahoos start agitating to run the children out of town, blaming them for a string of arsons that began as soon as they arrived. Sam keeps out of the politics for a while, but once he takes on one of Jane's children as an assistant, he's quickly drawn into the conflict. His own obsession with Louise's death, moreover, is nourished by a string of anonymous telephone calls he begins to receive late at night from someone who declares, ``I know what you did.'' A defrocked rabbi, a Brooklyn homegirl, several troubled yet adorable street urchins, a horny postmistress, and a gay football player provide some silly digressions from Sam's story. By the end, though he's not been healed of his loss, it's evident that the worst is behind him. Mawkish and overblown: Despite some good characters and a smooth voice, the sentiments are obvious to the point of caricature. Read full book review >
A HEARTBEAT AWAY by Barbara Rogan
Released: May 20, 1993

Rogan's fourth novel (Saving Grace, 1991; Cafe Nevo, 1987, etc.)—a comforting story set in a hospital and surrounds in a Manhattan ghetto neighborhood—comes with plenty of ER action, a slow-fuse courtship between a head doctor and a cleaning lady, a young nurse who crosses a racial barrier (the brotherhood beat is worthy if unsubtle as a bass drum, Howard Fast-style), and even a ghost. No one at Mercy Hospital notices Crow the cleaning woman; no one even knows that she's the widow of the famous tenor sax Blue Durango. Seems that Crow can no longer face a world where she's noticed, and lives only for her tiny son Joey in the project with her adopted mother. Meanwhile, Dr. Thomas Graystone, head medico at Mercy, whose social-climbing mother had dumped their relatives from the projects, doesn't really ``see'' Crow. But then Crow begins to deliver medical bulletins—life-saving—from a mysterious doctor. He turns out to be a very dead Dr. Elias Glass, who is malingering this side of the Gates because he thought he killed a child. Then Dr. Graystone does notice Crow when she shows up at a jazz gig with Blue's old pals. While Dr. G. tries (in vain) to court Crow, nurse Alice rescues an abused black kid from an abuser and tries to adopt—and also finishes the career of a medical sadist. You can be sure it all turns up roses, even for Elias, who heads for....? A soggy but essentially cheerful novel, cinema-bound. (Film rights to MGM) Read full book review >
SAVING GRACE by Barbara Rogan
Released: June 26, 1991

A noisy domestic drama—set in the environs of New York City and Israel—in which a family is torn apart by the father's political ruin. Again, as in the author's Cafe Nevo (1987) and Changing States (1981), Israel offers a challenge and a vision that, here, will unlock a heart and provide a future. The household headed by Jonathan Fleishman, much admired Democratic Party leader with a past of civil-rights activism, is not a happy one. Wife Lily, remote but always gently supportive, is as helpless as Jonathan in the face of the rage of 18-year-old Grace, always ``a fighter and survivor,'' always her father's favorite. Like grandmother Clara, son Paul is an ``uncompromising materialist,'' but, unlike Clara, Paul has no commitment to family (Paul has a few stupid/nasty lines, then splits for good). Now Jonathan—given the shoulder by daughter Grace because, in spite of all his noble sentiments, he'd sold their home in a newly black neighborhood—is in deep trouble. Old friends have squealed, the media is rumbling, and the law is about to accuse him of extortion and influence-peddling—things that ``everybody does.'' Reporter Barnaby sleeps with Grace, and elicits a family secret. Thumbscrews, meanwhile, are being twisted on Jonathan's reputation; Lily is dying of a brain tumor; and then Grace, sent to Israel to stay at a kibbutz with Aunt Tamar and her adopted son Micha, is lost in a Judean desert. The Book of Job, not surprisingly, comes to mind. Finally, Jonathan delivers a high-decibel confession to a jury, sacrificially inviting the clink; Lily dies; and Grace has her angst cured by Israel, where there's a ``saving attachment to place.'' There's also Micha—strong, brave, with a cleft in his chin, etc. An earnest novel, but simplistic in characterization. One cannot believe in these theatric people, who seem to have only one stance and one dimension. Read full book review >

An account of the affair between American TV-news producer Newman and Bashir Gemayel, whose attempt to unify wartorn Lebanon ended with his assassination shortly after his election as president in 1982: a potentially compelling, but mishandled, story of love and danger, told with the help of novelist Rogan (Cafe Nero, 1987). Newman met Gemayel, then head of the Lebanese Christian militia, in 1980 while producing a program about terrorism. Though other journalists dismissed his Phalangist forces as Fascist, Newman was impressed by his mission to unify his country under a democracy. She also fell in love (professionalism—but not Gemayel's wife—made her wait to consummate the relationship until the film was in the can). The portrait of Gemayel here is not a very intimate or clear one, nor are the sometimes controversial conclusions about the Middle East well developed as Newman focuses mostly on the trials and triumphs of her own career. The author's courage cannot be doubted: after Gemayel's assassination, Newman traveled through the Bekaa Valley—dangerous to begin with, controlled by the hostage-taking Hezbollah—in the company of the man she believed responsible for the killing, hoping to confront him and learn the truth; but this remarkable trip is recounted with little drama or immediacy. Newman's story will probably make a terrific movie someday; the book, however, is skippable. Read full book review >