An ornate, gruesome, and rigorously crafted Civil War novel.

The Veteran

From the The Castor Family Trilogy series , Vol. 1

Slaughter tells the story of a Civil War veteran’s attempts to silence his ghosts while working in the lumber camps of Michigan in this debut novel.

Will Castor serves in Battery D, 1st Regiment, Michigan Light Artillery, sending shells into the ranks of Confederate infantry whenever he’s ordered to do so. When his unit’s position is overrun at the Battle of Chickamauga, Will witnesses and commits ghastly horrors to survive the day. Separated from his army and incapacitated with a broken leg, he hooks up with a Confederate deserter who takes him home to Tennessee and shelters him. While there, Will develops strong feelings for the Rebel’s sister, Mollie. Back in Michigan after the war, he finds work at a lumber company in East Saginaw and attempts to lose himself in the hard life and colorful atmosphere of the camp. As a land looker (someone who evaluates standing timber), Will has the opportunity to traverse the Edenic forest, free of associations and memory. Even so, he struggles with the ghosts of his past, retreating ever deeper into the bottle and into the woods. Haunted by the traumas of the war, the wilds present Will with an unexpected opportunity for redemption—though it may prove to be an even greater battle than the one at Chickamauga. Slaughter is a fastidious writer, summoning the worlds of Civil War artillery and the 19th-century lumber industry in all their gritty details. A frame story about a Castor descendant searching for Will’s grave feels unnecessary and forced, but the scenes of war are replete with all the fire and death the reader expects from a Civil War novel: “Here and there the haze was ripped by long angry streaks of red from the mouths of the guns that set huge swirling eddies adrift in the dense smoke.” Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the story is its postwar period and its depiction of Will’s PTSD. The reader feels great empathy for this broken veteran, stumbling about in an era when the language for such aftereffects had not yet been established.

An ornate, gruesome, and rigorously crafted Civil War novel.

Pub Date: June 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-9439-9509-7

Page Count: 326

Publisher: Mission Point Press

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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