Broken River

When 12-year-old Irina moves with her artist father and writer mother from Brooklyn to Broken River, a small and dying town in upstate New York, she's partially aware that the relocation has something to do with her father's infidelity. As her parents work through their drama, the precocious young girl passes the time by researching her new town and large home, discovering it to be the site of a gruesome double-murder 10 years earlier, one in which the murdered couple's daughter was never found. When a young woman arrives in town, Irena is convinced she's the daughter of the murdered couple and convinces her parents to let the woman babysit. Meanwhile, her father continues an affair and her mother fears she's dying of cancer. Each of their worries, some real and some imagined, twist together toward a riveting climax that changes their lives forever.

Broken River, J. Robert Lennon's eighth novel, is a darkly hilarious examination of human behavior. Shifting from varying viewpoints--a young girl, a philandering middle-aged artist, a wildly talented writer, a down-and-out small-town criminal and a disembodied narrator (referred to self-referentially throughout as the Observer)--this literary psychological thriller gets at the root of motivation, whether it's to kill or love or even forgive. The characters are so richly developed they resonate as someone familiar--and that's what makes this wonderfully absorbing novel equally funny, terrifying and heartbreaking. --Amy Brady, freelance writer and editor

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