The mystery may bring readers to the table, but the vibrant characters and Jackson Hole setting should keep them turning...

The Grand

A deeply troubled Chicago cop, suffering from hallucinations, travels to Wyoming in this debut novel.

If Dean Wister is looking for anything, it’s an escape. In the aftermath of personal tragedy and professional disaster, there are few other options afforded to him. At the very least, leaving Chicago for a while will get him away from citizens’ prying eyes, whether they’re hoping to see the firebrand cop they know and love or his trademark temper over the collapse of a major mob corruption case. And then there’s the fact that if they looked too closely, they might see the real depths of his fragility, up to and including his frequent, vivid hallucinations of his recently deceased wife. But visiting the Tetons and the Snake River, where he met his wife, doesn’t repair his haggard soul, and nearby Jackson Hole, Wyoming, isn’t as far removed from Dean’s big-city problems as he might expect. When a known mob hit man dies in an apparent car accident, both local law enforcement and Dean’s own task force assume he was up to no good. And while Dean is technically on leave, he can’t help but be pulled in. Although he quickly gains the support of the local sheriff’s department and the community, the case evolves into the toughest he’s faced. The mystery winds its way through three states and multiple social strata, with threads of political corruption, Mafia ties, money laundering, and, of course, murder before it all comes together. Wilson crafts a classic crime thriller plot and combines it with a complex sense of place in this multifaceted novel. The mystery is a joy to read, as its simple beginnings give way to a much more complicated truth with plenty of twists and turns to follow. What’s more, a rich cast of characters explores Jackson Hole and its unique mix of natural beauty, wealth, intricate politics, and rural charm. While the few moments without this sense of atmosphere can feel abrupt and some of the character descriptions are lacking or overly focused on women’s sexual attractiveness, most readers should quickly move past these minor quibbles and get lost in this immersive tale.

The mystery may bring readers to the table, but the vibrant characters and Jackson Hole setting should keep them turning pages.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Water Street Press

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2017

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The years pass by at a fast and steamy clip in Blume’s latest adult novel (Wifey, not reviewed; Smart Women, 1984) as two friends find loyalties and affections tested as they grow into young women. In sixth grade, when Victoria Weaver is asked by new girl Caitlin Somers to spend the summer with her on Martha’s Vineyard, her life changes forever. Victoria, or more commonly Vix, lives in a small house; her brother has muscular dystrophy; her mother is unhappy, and money is scarce. Caitlin, on the other hand, lives part of the year with her wealthy mother Phoebe, who’s just moved to Albuquerque, and summers with her father Lamb, equally affluent, on the Vineyard. The story of how this casual invitation turns the two girls into what they call "Summer sisters" is prefaced with a prologue in which Vix is asked by Caitlin to be her matron of honor. The years in between are related in brief segments by numerous characters, but mostly by Vix. Caitlin, determined never to be ordinary, is always testing the limits, and in adolescence falls hard for Von, an older construction worker, while Vix falls for his friend Bru. Blume knows the way kids and teens speak, but her two female leads are less credible as they reach adulthood. After high school, Caitlin travels the world and can’t understand why Vix, by now at Harvard on a scholarship and determined to have a better life than her mother has had, won’t drop out and join her. Though the wedding briefly revives Vix’s old feelings for Bru, whom Caitlin is marrying, Vix is soon in love with Gus, another old summer friend, and a more compatible match. But Caitlin, whose own demons have been hinted at, will not be so lucky. The dark and light sides of friendship breathlessly explored in a novel best saved for summer beachside reading.

Pub Date: May 8, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32405-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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A flabby, fervid melodrama of a high-strung Southern family from Conroy (The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline), whose penchant for overwriting once again obscures a genuine talent. Tom Wingo is an unemployed South Carolinian football coach whose internist wife is having an affair with a pompous cardiac man. When he hears that his fierce, beautiful twin sister Savannah, a well-known New York poet, has once again attempted suicide, he escapes his present emasculation by flying north to meet Savannah's comely psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein. Savannah, it turns out, is catatonic, and before the suicide attempt had completely assumed the identity of a dead friend—the implication being that she couldn't stand being a Wingo anymore. Susan (a shrink with a lot of time on her hands) says to Tom, "Will you stay in New York and tell me all you know?" and he does, for nearly 600 mostly-bloated pages of flashbacks depicting The Family Wingo of swampy Colleton County: a beautiful mother, a brutal shrimper father (the Great Santini alive and kicking), and Tom and Savannah's much-admired older brother, Luke. There are enough traumas here to fall an average-sized mental ward, but the biggie centers around Luke, who uses the skills learned as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam to fight a guerrilla war against the installation of a nuclear power plant in Colleton and is killed by the authorities. It's his death that precipitates the nervous breakdown that costs Tom his job, and Savannah, almost, her life. There may be a barely-glimpsed smaller novel buried in all this succotash (Tom's marriage and life as a football coach), but it's sadly overwhelmed by the book's clumsy central narrative device (flashback ad infinitum) and Conroy's pretentious prose style: ""There are no verdicts to childhood, only consequences, and the bright freight of memory. I speak now of the sun-struck, deeply lived-in days of my past.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1986

ISBN: 0553381547

Page Count: 686

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1986

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