A complex melodrama, set in Boston, about a third-generation attorney who must come to terms with the tawdry legacy of a manipulative father manipulated by his own father and a willful daughter who falls for the wrong guy.
This is a sequel to Nova’s (The Constant Heart, 2012, etc.) acclaimed The Good Son, which appeared in 1982. Frank MacKinnon is his father’s son, a not-yet-dead Yale man. Frank’s father, Chip, is a hard-drinking type with uncertain but nefarious employment who has wasted the assets of his own cold, calculating (and long-dead) father, Pop. Money was squandered, and, worse yet, two-thirds of Pop’s ample property in Delaware was sold off to the Girl Scouts. Frank turns to the journals of Pop’s deceased wife, Catherine, for help in sorting out the financial mess, the emotional turmoil, the bad genes. Frank, a prosecutor, is a mess himself, blowing a case that eats at what remains of his conscience and struggling to steer his beloved, bright, attractive daughter away from Aurlon Miller, a charismatic but unkempt ne’er-do-well. When Frank’s wife gets invited to Rome, Frank goes to great lengths to thwart Miller. Frank’s passionate but principled ex, Pauline, appears and plays a small but crucial part. Pauline is an irresistible type, the incorruptible criminal. A troublesome black bear roams the Delaware property, fatted with symbolism.
Nova is a gifted writer of quotidian violence: car wrecks, suicides, animal poisonings, murder. The macabre steadies his prose. Connoisseurs of this sort of not-quite hard-boiled fiction will find much to admire here.