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THE TYREE LEGEND by William Kelley Kirkus Star



Pub Date: April 1st, 1979
ISBN: 0595007007
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

A predatory and powerful family of rich landowners, a prodigal son returned, a replay of a grisly murder, old political and sexual flames re-fanned: these are fairly off-the-shelf commodities, but here they're invested with enough virile, flexible style and intelligence so that Kelley (The Godhunters) just about gets away with it. Oscar Tyree, famous but self-critical painter, returns to Kaatskill County below Albany for the funeral of his estranged wife, Deirdre, after almost 30 years of expatriation. The local set-up is much the same as he left it: Deirdre's family, the Breesvorts, are still the powerful local gentry; son Duff has grown up into a cynical, hard-drinking playboy lawyer reluctantly on the stump for election as District Attorney; an old lighthouse, perfect as a studio, still stands by the river. And when Oscar meets beautiful Gaybee Kalkbergh and falls in love with her, there's incentive to stay. But Gaybee is killed by a jealous lover, then unrelatedly mutilated a few hours later by a local maniac--and blame falls on Oscar. The court trial stacks up as an inquisition for the Breesvorts in general, son Duff defending as best as he can against what the reader already knows is a total frame-up. This trial may overstay its welcome, using up a good half of the book, but Kelley works with a more delicate, defter touch than most family-scandal novelists--and even fairly sophisticated readers may be able to find entertainment in the steamy, drawn-out doings.