Stephen Goodwin, Author . Harcourt $24 (416p) ISBN 978-0-15-100806-3

Goodwin's first novel in over two decades (after Blood of Paradise, 1979) is psychologically acute, if somewhat overplotted. Tucker Jones is a 44-year-old divorced father of two living in Washington, D.C. His life is settled in a comfortable routine until the night he receives an enigmatic phone call informing him that his 14-year-old daughter, Kat, has been involved in sexual games at a party. Blinded by worry and rage, Tucker finds the party and confronts a group of boys while looking for Kat; before the night is over, a high school junior loses his eye, and Tucker becomes embroiled in criminal proceedings that threaten to destroy his career (he owns a landscape business), family and financial stability. Goodwin tackles many subplots, including Tucker's relationship with Kat and her younger brother, Will; the ongoing litigation; and an affair that Tucker has with the mother of Kat's best friend. Tucker's reflections ramble from his son's fishing exploits to his ex-wife to the garage band he has formed with several other parents in the neighborhood. The plot becomes so busy that Goodwin loses control of the narrative at points. Still, the author's emotional compass is unfailing; he offers a memorable exploration of familial love and penance, with a likably bewildered—and articulate—protagonist: "I groaned with lust and remorse and an awareness of the disorder that seemed ready to swallow me up." Agent, Timothy Seldes. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 06/30/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 408 pages - 978-0-15-602969-8
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