Two recent releases focus on well-defined characters
involved in exceptionally stressful relationships. Each book
is by a remarkably talented author; the characters are bound
to linger long after the last page is turned.
“Until She Comes Home” by Lori Roy (Dutton, $26.95) is a
mesmerizing mystery novel set in a small Detroit neighborhood in
The author, who won an Edgar Award for best first
mystery novel last year for “Bent Road”, proves that her
recognition is well-deserved.
This emotional, subtly powerful tale deals with a variety
of neighborhood tensions, particularly when one woman is
murdered and another disappears.
Other aspects covered include prostitution, rape and
spousal abuse; life-altering situations abound.
There is a wide range of intriguing characters, including
Grace, who’s pregnant and her best friend Julia, who’s trying
to take care of twin nieces. There’s also Malina, one of the
neighborhood’s busybody leaders, who has suspicions about her
Roy adroitly captures the atmosphere of the time, when
racial tensions were bubbling over and fear of integration was
The author slowly draws the reader in, as violence flares
and dark secrets emerge; this is a superb, tense suspense tale
that’s one of the year’s best crime novels.
“Evil Eye” by Joyce Carol Oates (Mysterious Press, $23) is
a powerful and dark collection of four short novellas. Each
deals with emotional relationships of “love gone wrong”, with
unexpected and often shocking results.
The title story explores the attitude of Mariana, the young
fourth wife of a prominent intellectual. She’s trying to cope
with a visit from her husband’s first wife, who has unnerving
“So Near… Any Time… Always” showcases Lisbeth, a young
teenager, and her first romance with Desmond, a handsome older
boy. After a great start, the relationship falters, soon turning
her life into a nightmare.
“The Execution” is a chilling tale of a college student who
carefully plans the vengeful murder of his parents. It’s a
surprising, ironic tale of death and continuing love.
“The Flatbed” reveals a pretty woman’s dark secrets,
leading to a quite surprising conclusion.
Oates, who has taught at the University of Detroit, is a
multiple award-winning author of many gripping novels and short-
story anthologies. This is a disturbing yet captivating
collection that showcases her exceptional writing talent.
Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has
reviewed crime novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.
Find this book and other great titles
at the Curious Book Shop, an independent
book shop in East Lansing, founded in 1969.
Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan
This review was published by the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, September 22, 2013.