This odd, dark and often creepy tale of a dysfunctional community and a family that fits right in will keep readers...

BENT ROAD

Roy’s suspenseful debut novel presents readers with a rich mix of troubled characters planted against the backdrop of a small Kansas farming town and the mysterious deaths of two young girls.

In the turbulent 1960s, Arthur and Celia Scott leave rioting Detroit behind with their three children and move back to Arthur's childhood home in Kansas. His mother, Reesa, and sister, Ruth, still live there, but things have not been going well with Ruth, long married to the drunken bully who once loved their sister, Eve. The fragile blonde Eve died violently many years ago, her body found in the shed on the Scott property. The community’s consensus is that Ray murdered Eve; whether or not the charge is true, her death certainly turned his life to ruins. Soon the family settles in: Arthur and Celia’s oldest daughter meets and falls for a local boy, while young Daniel, their son, struggles to become a man in a town where he has no friends and a father who doesn’t believe in him. Meanwhile, the youngest child, Eve-ee, who like her namesake aunt is both small and fair, finds kinship with her long-dead relative, who left behind a closet of beautiful dresses and a sad statue of the Virgin Mary. When another local girl, also blonde, petite and Eve-ee’s age, disappears and is feared murdered, the Scotts reexamine the circumstances surrounding Eve’s death. Soon Ruth finds herself once again on the receiving end of one of Ray’s beatings, but this time she has Arthur to shield her. Eventually, the Scott family realizes the truth about what happened to Eve, and Ruth deals with the frightening future she faces if she stays with her husband. Roy, a former tax accountant, writes sparingly of the bleakness of life and death on a farm. In her hands, the plot twists and turns, but, in the end, all the pieces fit, although the denouement is unsettling. 

This odd, dark and often creepy tale of a dysfunctional community and a family that fits right in will keep readers wondering right until the last page.

Pub Date: March 31, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-525-95183-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2011

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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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