AMERICAN ELSEWHERE by Robert Jackson Bennett


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Urban fantasy that gradually morphs into supernatural science fiction, from the multiple-award-winning author of The Troupe (2012, etc.).

When ex-cop and now drifter Mona Bright’s abusive, deadbeat and estranged father dies, she learns that her long-dead mother owned a house in Wink, N.M., which for some reason her father never went near. Wink, Mona finds, is a tough place to locate and even harder to reach: It was once a government town, built to service a mysterious research station atop a local mesa. The station was abandoned in the 1970s, and it seems her mother used to work there. Wink’s inhabitants, furthermore, are decidedly peculiar. Some, unequivocally human, make “accommodations” with unseen entities and never, ever go outside after dark; others, like town clerk and gossip Mrs. Benjamin, the terrifying, unseen Mr. First (he lives in a canyon that nobody goes near) and motel proprietor Parson, who plays Chinese checkers with an invisible opponent, are fey and know more than they’re telling; still others live perfect lives, Stepford Wives style, but without any real idea what they’re doing. And nobody admits to having known Mona’s mother—until she digs up a photo of her mother at a party along with a Mrs. Benjamin, whose appearance hasn’t changed in nearly 40 years. To unravel the multiple mysteries, Mona will need all her survival instincts and the skills she acquired as a police officer. Investigating Wink and its weird, secretive inhabitants is enthralling—for about half the book. But then, Bennett starts providing increasingly far-fetched and repetitious explanations which ultimately prove far less fascinating than the conundrums.

Highly impressive for the most part, but increasingly unrestrained and with a quite frankly absurd finale.

Pub Date: Feb. 12th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-316-20020-2
Page count: 688pp
Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2012


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