Frederick Busch, Author . Norton $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-393-05103-2

With a particular sense of landscape and of the rhythms of rural life, Busch (A Memory of War , etc.) once again maps out his home territory, upstate New York, in this hybrid of a somber literary novel and hard-boiled detective story. This follow-up to his 1997 novel, Girls , centers on Jack, an emotionally scarred security guard, who meets a woman on the Carolina coast and agrees to search for her missing ne'er-do-well nephew. The young man has conveniently disappeared in Vienna, N.Y., the very site of Jack's former troubles. Jack follows the trail upstate, where encounters with a dope farmer and a parasitic, sexually voracious reporter ensue. Constant flashbacks to the events of Girls— Jack's divorce, the death of his child and the search for another missing girl—are meant to up the emotional ante, but instead mire what should be a page-turner in the past. And while Busch combines the conventions of prurient sex and graphic violence with accomplished description and characterization, he sacrifices suspense and pacing in the process of straddling two genres. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/11/2005
Release date: 05/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 317 pages - 978-0-345-48683-7
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-393-35008-1
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