Taken in: 1

Beverly Coyle, Author Viking Books $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-670-86398-3
Coyle (The Kneeling Bus; In Troubled Waters) is very hard to characterize. She is excellent at domestic detail, with an offbeat comic touch that makes her something of an Anne Tyler who sets her scenes in Florida rather than Baltimore. It is hard to imagine murder intruding into Tyler's world, however, as it does into the lives of Malcolm Robb, an admissions director at a Florida college, and his wife, Susan. It enters by way of their teenage son, Matt, who seems to be evolving into an oddly saintly person in ways they could never have expected. In what was intended as an act of kindness, Matt becomes embroiled with Angela, a bright but desperately unhappy teenage prostitute, and her sinister companion, Cooper. When the Robbs' unworldly neighbor, elderly Oren, also takes pity on Angela and gives her his house to live in, the scene is set for tragedy. Coyle is very good at describing the Robbs' middle-class but quirky existence, their relationships with Matt and their wonderfully serene and levelheaded daughter, Gretchen. And when violence suddenly and unforgettably intrudes on these quiet lives, the effect is electrifying. But there are problems: cross-dressing Oren never comes to life as more than a plot device, the setting--a small north Florida college town--lacks any convincing sense of place, and there are too many muddled conversations that go nowhere despite considerable whimsical charm. Coyle's skills are everywhere apparent, but the book seems to have been insufficiently thought through. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/29/1998
Release date: 07/01/1998
Paperback - 305 pages - 978-0-14-025030-5
Show other formats
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!