HAVEN by John Peyton Cooke


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 A Seattle physician and her Chinese-American husband find out what evil lurks behind the neighborly facade of Haven, Idaho. Assigned to Haven (pop. 918) in return for the medical- school tuition advanced by the Rural Physicians Program, Dr. Cecilia Mak is startled by the townsfolk's almost oppressive goodwill. During a party welcoming her and her husband Mike, Bonnie Gillette offers the two a free meal at her diner, and the beer from Dave Clinton's microbrewery flows like Schlitz. Even the Maks' rental house has been donated by the Widow Tyler, the sheriff's landed grandmother. Gradually, though, cracks open in this matey veneer. Someone tosses a pair of dead cats on the Maks' lawn; someone phones and calls Cecilia a traitor; someone throws a brick through their bedroom window. It looks like the Haven Society, a hush-hush social group, may be a cover for a nest of America Firsters suspicious of Cecilia's marriage to a Chinese-American; a little digging reveals the shameful treatment of Chinese immigrants back in the earliest days of Haven. But that wouldn't explain Bonnie's determined amorous pursuit of Mike, or young Lewis Jackson's ``accidental'' shooting of Raphael Abramowitz (and what was this stranger doing wandering in the woods anyway?), or the strange disappearance of Cecilia and Mike's gay friends Jeremy Horowitz and Tom Parker on their way back to Seattle after a visit. No, behind all those all-American surnames the Haven residents have bestowed on themselves lurk German accents, Wehrmacht commissions, and tracts on eugenics--in short, everything but Hitler's brain in a Mason jar. The return of the Axis menace turns Cooke's ``novel of anxiety'' into well- oiled melodrama, with Mike cut off by a snowstorm from returning to Haven, Cecilia loading his new pistol with hollow-points, and so on. Cooke, whose first two novels (Torsos, 1994; The Chimney Sweeper, 1995) were so memorably sordid, opts for a PG-nightmare that even Disney could film (Nazis at Black Rock?) without turning a hair.

Pub Date: Aug. 30th, 1996
ISBN: 0-89296-610-6
Page count: 464pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1996