Broken River by J. Robert Lennon
A Novel

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Fizzing with line-by-line propulsion and wickedly plotted with slow-burn complexity, this is a knockout, unmissable performance from a writer at the very top of his game.
-Guardian

Synopsis

The most inventive and entertaining novel to date from “a master of the dark arts” (Kelly Link)

A modest house in upstate New York. One in the morning. Three people―a couple and their child―hurry out the door, but it’s too late for them. As the virtuosic and terrifying opening scene of Broken River unfolds, a spectral presence seems to be watching with cold and mysterious interest. Soon the house lies abandoned, and years later a new family moves in.

Karl, Eleanor, and their daughter, Irina, arrive from New York City in the wake of Karl’s infidelity to start anew. Karl tries to stabilize his flailing art career. Eleanor, a successful commercial novelist, eagerly pivots in a new creative direction. Meanwhile, twelve-year-old Irina becomes obsessed with the brutal murders that occurred in the house years earlier. And, secretly, so does her mother. As the ensemble cast grows to include Louis, a hapless salesman in a carpet warehouse who is haunted by his past, and Sam, a young woman newly reunited with her jailbird brother, the seemingly unrelated crime that opened the story becomes ominously relevant.

Hovering over all this activity looms a gradually awakening narrative consciousness that watches these characters lie to themselves and each other, unleashing forces that none of them could have anticipated and that put them in mortal danger. Broken River is a cinematic, darkly comic, and sui generis psychological thriller that could only have been written by J. Robert Lennon.

 

About J. Robert Lennon

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J. Robert Lennon is the author of seven novels, including Castle and Mailman, and a story collection, Pieces for the Left Hand. His fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, Granta, Harper's Magazine, Playboy, and The New Yorker. He lives in Ithaca, New York, where he teaches writing at Cornell University.
 
Published May 16, 2017 by Graywolf Press. 240 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Humor & Entertainment, Crime. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Broken River
All: 4 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 0

Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Tobias Carroll on May 12 2017

There are moments here of chilling violence, and of nuanced comedies of manners; the result is a heady novel that distills a host of anxieties into something offbeat and hard to shake.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Terrence Rafferty on Aug 09 2017

Every novel is a small town, and you’ll leave it eventually, in search of other connections, different worlds. But when you close a novel as good as “Broken River,” something, not quite a ghost, may follow you.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Stuart Kelly on Jul 01 2017

So much happens inside the characters: so much is presented as hypothetical. This is an astonishing, nasty, brilliant, upsetting work.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Anthony Cummins on Jun 25 2017

Fizzing with line-by-line propulsion and wickedly plotted with slow-burn complexity, this is a knockout, unmissable performance from a writer at the very top of his game.

Read Full Review of Broken River: A Novel | See more reviews from Guardian
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