The Leaf Boats

John Fink, Author St. Martin's Press $17.95 (213p) ISBN 978-0-312-04977-5
This splendid first novel by the editor of Ford Times portrays with deep sensitivity a family seemingly doomed by repeated tragedies. At its heart is ``Dutch'' Gillespie, 79, a retired Chicago banker who sired four children by his first wife and three by his second, the enchanting, twice-divorced Natalie, a former go-go dancer and rock singer who was 20 and the mother of a young son when he, then 50, married her. As the story opens, the withered but still dominant Dutch, who masks his romantic nature with icy rages that frighten his offspring, lives alone in an apartment overlooking the park in Skokie where Natalie was raped and murdered 16 years ago. After a dark and stormy night, during which his son Frank's house collapses, morning brings a new catastrophe--Nora Gillespie lies slain near the spot in the park where her mother was found so long ago. It soon becomes apparent that another sibling knows more about both murders than she's willing to reveal. Fink makes us care so much for his suffering characters that we forget the preposterous nature of his story and pursue it to its bloody, fiery and satisfying end. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
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